Remembering Miles Davis: Watch Montreux 1991 Concert With Quincy Jones
Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis was 65-years-old when he died of multiple health complications on this date in 1991. Davis was a consummate innovator and iconoclast, propelling jazz and constantly reshaping its form, birthing cool and fusing concepts and forms in exciting and challenging new ways.
Davis’ consistent commitment to innovation meant he rarely looked back at his early-career output, instead choosing to focus largely on whatever contemporary project or sound that was in development. One exception to that occurred on July 8, 1991 at one of Davis’ final public performances at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. At the prompting of Quincy Jones, Davis played several arrangements Gil Evans wrote during the late-1950s and early 1960s when they collaborated on such landmark albums as 1957’s Miles Ahead, 1959’s Porgy And Bess and 1960’s Sketches of Spain.
Jones recalled the concert for the documentary film, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, stating:
I’d been trying for 15 years man. I kept bugging him about it, kept bugging him about it. He said, “OK, motherfucker.” To see him at 65-years-old trying to re-create his 25-year-old self was just amazing, man. Yeah, I love him, man. It just makes my soul smile.
One of many career-spanning Miles Davis videos in the JamBase Live Video Archive, the Montreux 1991 concert was the first and only time Davis and Jones shared the stage together. Jones conducted two big bands, the Gil Evans Orchestra and the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, who were accompanied by saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Carles Benavent, drummer Grady Tate and trumpeters Wallace Roney and Benny Bailey.
The set began with Jones guiding the ensemble on the Davis/Evans’ collab, “Boplicity,” from the 1957 album, Birth Of Cool. Next came selections from Miles Ahead, as Davis and Jones steered takes on “The Maids of Cadiz,” “The Duke,” “My Ship,” “Miles Ahead” and “Blues for Pablo.” The set progressed with a medley Porgy And Bess favorites, first delivering Evans’ “Gone,” followed by George Gershwin’s “Gone, Gone, Gone,” “Summertime” and “Here Come De Honey Man.”
The historic performance concluded with the pairing of Evans’ arrangement of the traditional “The Pan Piper” and his “Solea” from Sketches Of Spain. Watch Miles Davis and Quincy Jones at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival below:
Watch additional footage of Mile Davis performing live throughout his legendary career via the JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA).