Sleepy Night (label)
24 September 2021 (released)
17 September 2021
Performed just three months before his death, this concert was one where Davis broke all his own rules – especially the one that said “Don’t Go Back”.
The concert featured performances of Davis with some of his greatest alumni – the likes of John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Bill Evans,: the list is seemingly endless. And the performances are just magnificent. It feels as though all of them are playing at their finest, just to enjoy playing with Miles once more.
He doesn’t stay in one form either. For a man who created so many styles and then moved on from them, never to look back, this concert has him playing the classic numbers from his back catalogue as well as more contemporary pieces.
What amazes me about this concert is that the secret had been kept – it was simply billed as ‘Miles And Friends’ – so that when the superstars started appearing on stage no-one in the audience was expecting them.
So, to the music. The first few numbers featured Miles’ then current band of Kenny Garrett on alto-sax, Deron Johnson on keys, Joe McCreary on stand up bass, Richard Patterson on electric bass and Ricky Wellman on drums. The band lays down some smoking groove with Davis fairly wailing and some stunning sax from Garrett.
Then the magic starts happening – Bill Evans, Steve Grossman, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Al Foster come on for a rousing ‘All Blues’ featuring a great tenor solo from Grossman. Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter join Miles for ‘In A Silent Way’ and the holes in the air are almost palpable with Miles’ soloing against Shorter’s Soprano sax creating an amazing atmosphere. ‘Katia’ sees John Scofield and John McLaughlin plus Darryl Jones & Ricky Wellman fighting a guitar duel against Wellman’s skittering drums.
And on it goes: ‘Dig’, a wonderful version of ‘Watermelon Man’ featuring Herbie Hancock & Bill Evans, ‘Footprints’ featuring Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea and closer ‘Jean Pierre’ with the whole crew onstage together.
It’s an important release but, more importantly to the listener, it is 2 CDs worth of great music played with real fire and fun.