Produced with loving care by Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, with no edits or overdubs, this document of Miles Davis's Montreux performances shows through never-before-released material how Miles and company transformed his music live, with their fire, invention, and interplay. The list of sidemen on these dates is a who's who of today's superstars, including saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarists John Scofield and Robben Ford, keyboardists Adam Holzman and Kei Akagi, bassist Michael Henderson, and percussionist Mtume. Most of the music on these discs features versions of Davis's fusion "hits." The funky and R&B-ish ditty "Ife" and the bouncy "Calypso Frelimo" are rendered with more gusto than their studio versions, as are the in-the-pocket, mid-'80s tunes "Star People" and "New Blues." A package this big has more than a few surprises, however. Chaka Khan lends her powerful pipes to Davis's unique cover of the Michael Jackson sleeper, "Human Nature," and "Al Jarreau" is an upbeat (though too short) tribute to the great vocalise master.
With one of the most successful tours of 2008 behind it—and the two-CD set Returns (Eagle Records, 2009) released to document the event—the reunion of fusion powerhouse Return to Forever—keyboardist Chick Corea, guitarist Al Di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White—appeared to be over. No surprise, however, that the group's triumphant performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival was also recorded, and now sees release a year after the tour began. Impeccably recorded with a multi-camera crew, and featuring a number of audio options, it's the perfect document of a tour that brought unexpected mass popularity back to fusion.