REVIEW – MILES DAVIS & JOHN COLTRANE – THE FINAL TOUR: THE BOOTLEG SERIES, VOL. 6

The current times and relationships among us drew me to focus on the relationship between Miles Davis and John Coltrane. It also goes to show us the triumph over defeat to obtain greatness and that they both did. Here we have two creative Black men fighting their personal demons and making a pivotal change in the way they play music.

Besides “Kind of Blue”, in 1959, the sessions that occurred in 1960 are going to be the topics here and what led up to them.

This is where we hear the difference and the view of things to come. It’s my thought that MILES DAVIS & JOHN COLTRANE – THE FINAL TOUR: THE BOOTLEG SERIES, VOL. 6, showed this shift. The personnel was Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums). They all had been playing together for a number of years and since “Kind of Blue”.

Jim Crow racism was alive and well in 1959. While recording a session for the Voice of America, Miles Davis was assaulted and unlawfully arrested by two New York City police officers for standing in front of the club and smoking a cigarette ( A cigarette, sound familiar?).

Later, his case against the NYPD was dismissed, and that included a whole lot of evidence, including multiple witness statements, photographic evidence, and the fact that at least one of the officers was drunk. He talked about that encounter for many years to follow.

From ‘55 to ‘57, Coltrane was a member of Davis’s five-piece ensemble, the First Great Quintet. John Coltrane was fighting his addiction to heroin and alcohol. His dress on stage was unkempt and wrinkled and Miles was not happy about that so he fired John for the second time.

He finds himself at a crossroads. John has either to lighten up or leave it alone He eventually quit cold turkey, locking himself in his Philadelphia home as he battled withdrawal.

From notes; “To listen to John Coltrane was to try and understand the magnitude of human life — its hopes and its unavoidable hazards. He made music that bled from the soul, that answered questions as much as it posed them.”

Born in Hamlet, North Carolina in 1926 to a Methodist family (both of his grandfathers were preachers), Coltrane gravitated toward music in his early years. He took up the clarinet and eventually the alto saxophone. Later, traveling the country, the racial realities of the racist South would influence the substance of his music as much as his desire to create a new sound and to push the boundaries.

In the late 1950s, the iconic version of Davis’s quintet turned the trumpeter into jazz’s leading man and crowned Coltrane as the tenor saxophonist to watch. Davis was the suit-wearing cool one and Coltrane was the nerd.

In 1959, Miles Davis’ business manager Harold Lovett negotiated a contract for Coltrane with Atlantic, the terms included a $7000 annual guarantee. After having recorded most of Giant Steps, Coltrane started having mouth problems and did not return to a recording studio for six months. In the fall, Coltrane hired some members of the Miles Davis Quintet for two Atlantic sessions, which resulted in the majority of the album and the track “Naima” for Giant Steps. “Like Sonny” is a tribute to Sonny Rollins. John liked his playing a lot.

Having left the Davis band for good in the spring of 1960, Coltrane formed his first touring quartet for a residency at the Jazz Gallery club in Manhattan, eventually settling on the line-up of Tyner, Jones, and bassist Steve Davis. This group entered the studio on October 21, recording “Village Blues” in the sessions that also produced “My Favorite Things”.

When the Miles Davis Quintet headed to Europe in spring 1960, John Coltrane had already submitted his resignation. If John felt that he was leaving something big behind, it didn’t show: Throughout this tour, Coltrane hit on something. He was starting to make a transition.

But in March 1960, Davis could find no suitable replacement for him, so Coltrane agreed to make one final trip. On the first night of the tour, at the Paris Olympia, startled boos mingled with applause during Coltrane’s solos. Folks were wondering, is this the guy we’ve been listening to on “Kind of Blue”? The band plays as a unit but Coltrane is also working on how things sound as he incorporates that into the sets to follow. One good example of that is on the versions of ” On Green Dolphin Street”. Some of the fans loved his playing during these sessions and some booed.

As friends and family members reflect in the film “Traneing In”, Coltrane was a relentless student of his instrument. “He constantly practiced and looked for inspiration around him”. “It was like he was trying to best himself,” as Benny Golson speaks to this.

Here is a rare John Coltrane interview where he talks about how he working his sound and leaving the Miles Davis Quintet:

Track Listing – Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream

  1. All of You [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Cole Porter
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    17:05
  2. So What [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    13:05
  3. On Green Dolphin Street [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Bronislau Kaper / Ned Washington
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    15:00
  4. Walkin’ [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Richard Carpenter
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    15:52

Track Listing – Disc 2

  1. Bye Bye Blackbird [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Mort Dixon / Ray Henderson
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    14:01
  2. ‘Round Midnight [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Bernie Hanighen / Thelonious Monk / Cootie Williams
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    05:36
  3. Oleo [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Sonny Rollins
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    04:22
  4. The Theme [Live From Olympia Theatre, Paris]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    00:51
  5. Introduction [Live From Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen]
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    00:59
  6. So What [Live From Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    14:36
  7. On Green Dolphin Street [Live From Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen]
    Bronislau Kaper / Ned Washington
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    14:35
  8. All Blues [Live From Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    15:31
  9. The Theme [Incomplete] [Live From Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    00:30

Track Listing – Disc 3

  1. Introduction by Norman Granz [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    01:10
  2. So What [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    10:34
  3. Fran Dance [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    07:24
  4. Walkin’ [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Richard Carpenter
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    16:21
  5. The Theme [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    00:52

Track Listing – Disc 4

  1. So What [Second Concert] [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    15:20
  2. On Green Dolphin Street [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Bronislau Kaper / Ned Washington
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    13:39
  3. All Blues [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    16:10
  4. The Theme [Second Concert] [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    Miles Davis
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    01:00
  5. John Coltrane Interview [Live From Konserthuset, Stockholm]
    John Coltrane / Miles Davis
    06:13

My favorite cuts on the recording are those where the artists really stretch out. “Fran Dance”, “On Green Dolphin Street”, “All Blues” and, “So What”, are my faves.

In January 1960 Coltrane released “Giant Steps,” on the Atlantic label a game-changing album of swiftly changing harmonics and fast, staggering solos. He later became the man that built Impulse Records with his music.

John Coltrane had already done several recordings while and after his tenure with Miles The major one was Giant Steps with a quartet. Here is the personnel:

Paul Chambers Bass
John Coltrane Composer, Primary Artist, Sax (Tenor)
Tommy Flanagan Piano
Art Taylor Drums

The next year,1961, Coltrane ran just as hard in the opposite direction, releasing “My Favorite Things” and “Africa/Brass,”.

Miles Davis had indeed started to go miles beyond in the many years that followed creating more beautiful solos and a Jazz Funk revolution.

John Coltrane found his love supreme and took us on astral travel that the world is still talking about from young Jazz novices to music scholars.

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