Miles Davis / Miles Davis Sextet

Live at the Hollywood Bowl 1981

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This recording, from Miles' first year back on-stage after a half decade's absence, holds up well alongside We Want Miles and the Japanese-only Miles! Miles! Miles! The same bandmembers are here -- saxophonist Bill Evans, guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Al Foster, and percussionist Mino Cinelu -- and they're working through the same repertoire, including versions of "Fat Time," "Back Seat Betty," and "Aida" from The Man with the Horn and "Kix," "My Man's Gone Now," and "Jean Pierre." Davis, as was the case from about 1972 on, isn't the star of his own show; yes, he solos on every track, but there are long stretches where he's silent, letting his bandmembers (many of whom were half his age) stretch these stripped-down, funky melodies to great length with rock-influenced solos. Many jazz fans discount Miles Davis' 1980s work, calling studio albums like Decoy, Tutu, and Amandla overly polished and claiming the trumpeter's command of his instrument had suffered. But listening to live recordings proves that he was still a fierce, commanding performer who knew how to put together killer bands, and this album adds more evidence that to truly understand what Miles was up to in his final decade, the studio discs are less than half the picture.

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