Miles Davis was on the verge of forming one of his most acclaimed ensembles in 1964. It was this year that he travelled to perform in Japan for the first time, bringing with him 3/4ths of the musicians that would form his famed "second great quartet"; Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on double bass, and Tony Williams on drums. In addition the jazz
legend brought along saxophonist Sam Rivers to replace the recently exited George Coleman, who was primarily a free jazz musician, but had a long and extensive background in bebop.
Davis and Rivers never developed any major chemistry between each other during the trip, and frequently found their distinct styles (Davis' cool and subdued traditional bop style contrasting with Rivers' wild but controlled avant-garde wandering) frequently clashing (or perhaps duelling) in their performances. But for all Davis and Rivers might not have meshed together, the crowd at Tokyo's Kohseinenkin Hall enjoyed it immensely. Davis himself reserved a special kind of respect and admiration for his Japanese audience as well, temporarily dropping his habit of exiting the stage during his fellow musicians' solos. Rivers would ultimately be dismissed from the group at the end of their trip, leading to the arrival of Wayne Shorter, and the inception of the “second great quartet.”
The partnership of Miles Davis and Sam Rivers may have been short-lived, but it did produce the live album Miles In Tokyo nearly five years later. The record is a rare jewel in Miles Davis' discography, featuring high-energy live versions of songs by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, and Richard Carpenter, as well as a restlessly fast-paced take on the Davis staple "So What". This collection has previously only been available in Japan, but is now presented on vinyl for the first time in America by Get On Down, Miles In Tokyo is a must-have for completionists of free jazz, bop, and avant-garde alike.