Led Zeppelin was never a straight-ahead jazz band, although the British rockers did incorporate jazz-fusion elements on the haunting "No Quarter." But for the most part, Zep's music had little relevance to jazz -- its areas of expertise were heavy metal, hard rock, blues-rock, and folk-rock. Despite its shortage of jazz content, Zep was among the artists that appeared at the 1970 Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Some jazz festivals don't necessarily book jazz acts exclusively -- the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles has had more than its share of rock and R&B acts -- and a perfect example is Zep's Montreaux appearance, which is the focus of this two-CD bootleg. Divinity has nothing to do with jazz, but from a rock standpoint, Zep's Montreaux set of March 14, 1970, is generally exciting, if a bit long-winded at times. One thing that Zep had in common with jazz artists was a love of improvisation; the band really gets a chance to stretch out on a 16-minute "Dazed and Confused," a 16-minute "Moby Dick," and a ten-minute "White Summer/Black Mountain Side." Zep is more succinct, although equally inspired, on "What Is and What Should Never Be," "Since I've Been Loving You," and Willie Dixon's "I Can't Quit You, Baby." In one respect, Zep is comparable to jazz great John Coltrane -- the two sound nothing alike, but both were extremely creative artists who could be long-winded. And because Trane and Zep brought so much creativity and first-rate musicianship to the table, one could easily forgive their excesses. Divinity (which has decent, if imperfect, sound quality) isn't essential, but is well worth searching for if you're among Zep's hardcore fans.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
feat: Jimmy Page