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Case Number 21735: Small Claims Court

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Miles Davis: Live At Montreux 1973-1991

Eagle Rock Entertainment // 1973 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // July 9th, 2011

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart can't even stand on stage with a trumpet as well as Miles Davis.

The Charge

"I know that God loves rascals."—Carlos Santana

The Case

You'll note that there's more than a decade between the first two concerts sampled on Miles Davis: Live at Montreux 1973-1991, thanks to what the accompanying booklet describes as Davis' "increasing health and personal problems." Thus, these samples from Switzerland's annual music festival are a relatively complete snapshot of Davis' later career.

Miles Davis: Live at Montreux 1973-1991 features ten of the best numbers from Davis and his band:

• "Ife"—1973
• "Speak: That's What Happened"—1984
• "Code MD"—1985
• "Pacific Express"—1985
• "Jean-Pierre"—1986
• "Heavy Metal Prelude"—1988
• "Jo Jo"—1989
• "Hannibal"—1990

Two numbers are from Sketches of Spain:

• "The Pan Piper"—1991
• "Solea"—1991

The highlights DVD opens with a whimper that's really a bang. Davis and his band are on stage, doing nothing, just waiting to perform. Tuning instruments gives way to gentle music as you wait for Davis to start blowing on his trumpet. When he does, "Ife" is eerily mesmerizing. Plenty of closeups let viewers see Davis and his band members at work.

The audio excellently captures both the boldness of Davis' trumpet and the pindrop softness of other sounds, including gentle taps on the drums or an almost whispering softness with the same trumpet.

Picture quality is decent, with the typical flaring of stage lights in the live concert footage. At one point, a guitar moves so fast that you can see its trail of light. A few of the performances featured elaborate lighting, most notably a black light that you can see on the colorful jackets of Davis and his colleagues at one point. There are three choices for audio—Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, and DTS Surround Sound—so you can get the best sound for your system.

Carlos Santana talks about Davis in a bonus interview. Santana's in awe of the legend who was his friend, but doesn't shy away from talking about mescaline and LSD in Davis' life. "I can hear it in the music," Santana says. He does tend to assume viewers know everything about Davis at times, but you'll get the gist of Davis' difficult but inwardly gentle personality. There are subtitles available for the interview; the music is instrumentals, of course.

The booklet says there is no complete DVD release of Miles Davis' work at Montreux, although I noticed IMDb listings for two Davis concerts there; however, the eight full concerts took up twenty CDs as Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991. Thus, there could be an expanded DVD release later. Still, this Montreux sampler does a good job of showing off Davis' work—enough that you'll keep it in mind as you listen to his CDs.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• Interview
• Booklet


• Montreux Jazz Festival

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