Miles Davis | The Complete Columbia Album Collection

Columbia/Legacy (2009)
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  December 9, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars


Given the consensus that the CD era is drawing to a close, labels have begun to look increasingly toward the well-heeled — those who not only still buy their music on something they can hold but aren't averse to buying it in supersized, extravagant configurations they can show off and savor. Still, it's hard to imagine who the intended audience is for Miles Davis's The Complete Columbia Album Collection, a 70-CD/1-DVD boxed mammoth containing all the music Miles recorded for the label between 1949 and 1985, a set that weighs five pounds and retails for $365.

Confirmed Miles-oholics will already have availed themselves of many of the individual titles collected herein, and likely Sony/Legacy's previous Miles boxes, as well (Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, etc.). Whatever their reasons, those who make this definitive statement on Davis's Columbia era theirs will find much to relish. Among its 52 official albums, the package includes expanded editions of four titles plus Miles's complete 1970 Isle of Wight performance, a typically electrifying gig from the Bitches Brew period that includes Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette.

The DVD, featuring two European sets from the fall of '67 in crisp audio and sharp black-and-white, is a monster spotlighting the all-star quintet of Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter. And the set's booklet is a hardcover affair of some 250 CD-sized pages, featuring an 11,000-word essay alongside all relevant credits. One caveat: there have been justifiable complaints about the box's flimsy cardboard. But for those who still require more, an insert promises "the ultimate Miles Davis collectible" next year, The Genius of Miles Davis, packed into a limited-edition trumpet case. Start saving.

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