Legendary trumpet master, the late, great Miles Davis, played the equally legendary Montreux Jazz Festival numerous times in his career, and this single DVD set from Eagle Rock gives the viewer some highlights from those appearances, spanning the years 1973-1991. Though the majority of what you will see here is from the latter part of Davis' career, it's still an enjoyable collection of jazz, fusion, rock, and funk from one of the most unique instrumental voices to ever walk the face of the earth.
Those into Davis' early fusion & funk era might be a bit disappointed that only "Ife" is included here, from his 1973 appearance at the Switzerland festival. This jamming funk fest sports Miles' band from the Big Fun album, and it's a rambling, sprawling Jimi Hendrix/Sly Stone influenced trip through rock, psychedelia, rock, and jazz styles. Miles is at his mysterious best here, stabbing in with his horn through the dense wall of grooves & noises (and eerily sweating up a storm, quite possibly in the midst of his cocaine addiction which resulted in him disappearing from the scene shortly after for many years), as well as chiming in with some odd keyboard notes in between searing guitar, percussion, and horns. Sound is good on this old clip, though the camera crew seemed always settled on Davis, even during moments when he's doing nothing and other musicians are soloing.
The best stuff here is easily the mid-80's footage from the John Scofield era, as the guitarist litterally burns on "Speak: That's What Happened", "Code MD" and "Pacific Express". Great to hear 'Sco' in more of a rock-fusion context as opposed to the more laidback, New Orleans styled jazz he's been stuck in for so many years. On the 1986 clip for "Jean-Pierre", famed guitarist Robben Ford & all-star sax player David Sanborn are on board, each delivering stunning solos alongside Davis. The DVD closes out with a few clips from the last few appearances, including parts of "Sketches of Spain" which was filmed just months before he passed away in 1991.
As great as the live concert footage is, on the bonus features you get a wonderful interview with Miles' good friend Carlos Santana, obviously recorded in the 90's after Davis' passing. He shares many memories of his experiences and conversations with the late trumpet legend, and if you have ever heard a Santana interview, he's fascinating to watch and listen to. They had a very special bond these two musicians, and you can really feel that listening to Carlos talk about his late friend.
In the end, Live at Montreux Highlights 1973-1991 is an enjoyable watch, and a DVD that every Miles Davis fan will want in their collection, but you'll definitely be wanting more.
2. That's What Happened
3. Code M D
4. Pacific Express
6. Heavy Metal Prelude
7. Jo Jo
9. The Pan Piper
Bonus Feature-Interview with Carlos Santana