In 1968, with this French-ly titled platter, The Prince of Darkness was saying goodbye to one era and ushering in another. The early-to-mid-60s Quintet is here, and the "next" Quintet also, with the common ground being Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams, both of whom influenced and were influenced by Miles, and are due a bigger chunk of the credit pie for the paths traveled by Miles, and subsequently, (nearly) the whole damn prog-jazz/rock world. When you mention the words "tenor sax" and "the 60s" in the same sentence, many jazzheads will say "Coltrane" - but at risk of hate mail, I think Shorter’s use of full-bodied, hearty tone, cold fire, passionate logic, silences and restraint was as important if not more so.
Williams’ wide-open yet engaging style was not that of a "free" player like Sunny Murray or Rashied Ali, but he was influenced by that era’s free jazz without leaving behind a powerful rhythmic stimulus - he improvised as much as any other player in the band. While the syntax of the earlier Quintet was for the most part intact - Davis and Shorter still played unison passages - Miles and company were reaching for an open-ended sound that took from the rock, soul/funk, avant/free jazz and electronic sounds of the day that did not pander to audiences nor leave them in the ozone - if one listens with closely there are always wisps, tinges and undertones of the Blues. As for the compositions, there’s a strong current of beautiful, haunting melancholia - NOT "gloom" - running through them.
Hey, if you know history, 1968 was indeed a tense, pivotal year in many ways for our nation and the world. And amid all this, Miles plays some of the sharpest, no-frills, laser-beam passionate trumpet of his career. Nobody knew it at the time, but this way the jazz counterpart to The Beatles' Revolver
- the best of the present and shades of the past and future all in the same place.