New Miles Davis Box Set Underscores Second Quintet’s Brilliance

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There were two definitive versions of the Miles Davis Quintet: the First Great Quintet from 1955 to 1958, and the Second Great Quintet from late 1964 to early 1969.

The latter serves as the focus for a forthcoming box set, which is centered around the Quintet’s work between 1966 and 1968. Titled Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5, the collection includes performances from 1967’s Miles Smiles; 1968’s Nefertiti; and 1976’s Water Babies (which was released in 1967), as well as full session reels from Miles Smiles comprising “every second of music and dialogue.”

Overall, there’s more than two hours of previously unreleased material, according to The New York Times. Find the tracklist here.

Miles Davis described the performance style of the Second Great Quintet as “time, no changes,” utilizing elements of free jazz and allowing the other members to contribute to the group as equals. The ensemble featured musicians that would go on to become jazz legends in their own right: Herbie Hancock on piano; Ron Carter on bass; Tony Williams on drums; and Wayne Shorter on saxophone.

This iteration of the Miles Davis Quintet recorded a number of albums such as E.S.P.Miles in the SkyFilles de Kilimanjaro and The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965.

Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5 comes as Miles Smiles celebrates its 50th anniversary, with the album originally recorded from October 24 to 25 in 1966. Smiles became one of the more notable releases of the five albums the Second Great Quintet recorded, with the ensemble experimenting with bop and free jazz in a way that had not been done before.

Never before have the full session reels for an entire Miles Columbia album been released, with this fifth volume providing an in depth look at the studio process of one of jazz’s greatest bandleaders, and arguably the greatest small jazz group ever.

Freedom Jazz Dance is out on October 21.