While the band closed out 1969 with a multi-night stand in Toronto and a pair of residencies at the Village Gate, this final stop on the European tour is the last known document of the Lost Quintet. Following large band studio sessions on November 19th and 28th, Miles began experimenting with an expanded live lineup – bringing guitarist Sonny Greenwich along for a few Toronto dates, making percussionist Airto Moreira a permanent fixture at the start of the year, and adding John McLaughlin for at least one gig in early 1970. And of course, Wayne Shorter would take his leave in the spring after 6 years by Miles’ side.
But first, Rotterdam. Maybe I was a bit premature in praising the Berlin gig as the quintet’s best of the year, because this show is every bit as good. Being the final night of a long tour, the band is both tighter and more playful than ever. Plus, the radio broadcast recording is phenomenal to boot – even Holland’s bass comes through loud and clear, which can’t be said for many of these ‘69 tapes.
Where the Berlin gig was a display of economy and mythical levels of telepathy, Rotterdam is 60+ minutes of pure adventure. Miles lets the duo and even stand-alone solos stretch on longer than usual, all of which are simply outstanding – check out Holland’s bass solo that bridges “Directions” and “Bitches Brew”, and the tripped out Corea/Holland/DeJohnette exploration at the end of “It’s About That Time”. The entirety of “Masqualero” is just on another level, from Shorter’s solo section and the halting groove the band lays down behind him, flowing into Corea’s solo, and bookended by the impeccable stop/start sections during the opening and closing statements.
Fittingly, this is the only complete tape of 1969 where Miles doesn’t tie the set up with “The Theme” – a brief tag he used to close his shows since the late 50s. With Shorter’s daughter born during the European tour and a creative arc that was clearly diverging from Miles’ direction, the bandleader may have sensed the end of his mighty ensemble had arrived. It’s not a stretch to imagine that omitting “The Theme” was Miles’ way of making sure the era never formally closed – and who could blame him?
Long live the Lost Quintet.
1. Introduction (0:51)
2. Directions (9:48)
3. Bitches Brew (12:50)
4. I Fall in Love Too Easily (2:38)
5. Sanctuary (3:56)
6. It’s About That Time (17:15)
7. Masqualero (14:59)