So Miles and Bob are linked through their long association with the CBS behemoth.
I’d now like to float a comparison between the Grateful Dead and Charlie Parker, if that’s ok.
The meat of both these ‘acts’ was in the live stuff (whilst also saluting their considerably wonderful studio accomplishments). The Dead were obsessive tapers and were obsessively taped (most of their live appearances over some 30 years, 1965-1995, were preserved). Parker had Dean Benedetti’s OCD mindset and tape machine working for his legacy, preserving hundreds of his solos, whilst leaving out his fellow musicians as being somehow ‘surplus to requirements’. At least Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Micky Hart, Tom Constantin and Bill Kreutzman were left to speak for themselves, without any ‘authorial intrusions’ from the likes of Benedetti and Macero. For better or worse.The Dead were only the most prolific of many bootlegged bands by the mid-70s, and I remember the likes of the Allman Brothers (At Watkins Glen), Led Zeppelin (Live at Blueberry Hill) and Little Feat (Electric Lycanthrope), for example, offering high-quality illegal (that sheer frisson of illegality!!) product that enhanced the relative paucity of these band’s official output at the time. This all seems so quaint now, when quality/quantity control seems to have gone out of the window. (The Allmans, Zep and Feat arguably had about 5 great albums in ‘em, the rest being mostly just filler?) Of course, you had The Who (Live at Leeds) and Frank Zappa (Live at the Fillmore ‘71) saluting the bootleg format, and acknowledging it’s importance, through their vinyl cover art. Even Punk got into the act - The Stooges Metallic K. O. and The Sex Pistols many illegal tapings, including the tastefully-titled (and no doubt ‘transgressive’) We’ve Cum for Your Children. (’Never trust a hippie’?? Hmm…)
Charlie Parker had around 15 years, the Dead around 20, to stake their claims for immortality. The vast bulk of their recordings are live, of varying provenances and quality (only obsessives and completists need apply). Miles Davis recorded across SIX decades (1945-1991), as has Bob Dylan (1961-2020), with the latter now entering his SEVENTH unparalleled decade of achievement with Rough and Rowdy Ways in 2020. Duke Ellington was another ‘sixer’ (1924-1974), and it’s difficult to find any remaining longitudinal masters who are still producing significant work today (Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell in the jazz/improv world, but none that I can think of in that of rock music, apart from Dylan and, perhaps, Nick Cave?). Let’s thus be thankful for the creative generosity of our surviving elders, despite the rapacity of record companies and the bewildering amount of ‘product’, past and present, that continues to be set before our eyes.