March 30, 2014

Playlist Week of 2014-03-29

Miles Davis At The Fillmore

* Hesperion XXI (Savall), et al: Francisco Javier: La Ruta de Oriente (Alia Vox 2 SACD)
* Miles Davis: The Bootleg Series Vol.3: At Fillmore East (Columbia/Legacy 4CD)
* Bobby Hutcherson: The Kicker (Blue Note CD)
* Marion Brown: Vista (Impulse! LP)
* Albert Ayler: New Grass (Impulse! CD)
* Albert Ayler: Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe (Impulse! LP)
* Miroslav Vitous: Magical Shepherd (Warner Bros. LP)
* John Abercrombie: Tactics (ECM CD)
* King Sunny Adé: JuJu Music (Mango/Island LP)
* Milton Nascimento: Yauareté (Columbia LP)
* Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol.12: 6/26/74 + 6/28/74 (selections) (GDP 3CD)
* Mandrill: Composite Truth (Polydor LP)
* Caravan: In The Land Of Grey And Pink (40th Anniversary Ed.) (Universal 2CD+DVD)
* Brand X: Unorthodox Behavior (Passport LP)
* Brand X: Moroccan Roll (Passport LP)
* Brand X: Livestock (Passport LP)
* Brand X: Masques (Passport LP)
* Brand X: Product (Passport LP)
* Brand X: Do They Hurt? (Passport LP)
* Brand X: Is There Anything About? (Passport LP)
* Steve Hackett: Spectral Morning (Chrysalis LP)
* Steve Hackett: Defector (Charisma LP)
* Neu: Neu! (Brain/Astralwerks CD)
* Neu: Neu 2 (Brain/Astralwerks CD)
* Chrome: Red Exposure (Beggar’s Banquet/Cleopatra LP)
* Chrome: Blood On The Moon (Don’t Fall Off The Mountain/Cleopatra LP)
* Chrome: 3rd From The Sun (Cleopatra LP)
* Chrome: Half Machine From The Sun (King of Spades 2LP)
* Mission Of Burma: The Horrible Truth About Burma (Ace of Hearts/Matador LP+EP+DVD)
* Sonic Youth: Simon Werner A Disparu (SYR LP)
* Steven Wilson: The Raven That Refused To Sing (KSCope BD)
* ISIS: Celestial (Ipecac CD)†/‡
* ISIS: Oceanic (Ipecac CD)
* Tortoise: A Lazarus Taxon (d.1-2) (Thrill Jockey 3CD+DVD)
* Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop 2-45RPM LP)
* Nothing: Guilty Of Everything (Relapse LP)



I can’t let this week go by without mentioning the new release in the Miles Davis Bootleg Series, which came out on Tuesday. Recorded over four consecutive nights in June 1970 at the Fillmore East in New York City, this third volume in the series finally presents, remixed and uncut, the music that was brutally edited by Teo Macero to create the Miles At Fillmore double-LP set which was released in December 1970. To be fair to Teo, it was Miles’s idea, wanting each side of the album to represent a single night of the run. With his sets lasting almost an hour, this was a Herculean task and Teo undoubtedly did the best he could in the limited amount of time available. But despite the high quality of the music, At Fillmore has always been one of my least favorite Miles Davis albums, with its jarring discontinuities and truncated jams incessantly interrupting the improvisational flow. Now, at last, we can hear what really went down at the Fillmore on those four nights.

As with the rapidly evolving studio material during this period, Miles’s live band was constantly in flux, a fact that has become increasingly clear with archival releases like this one. A previous appearance at the Fillmore East in March 1970 featured saxophonist Wayne Shorter, along with Chick Corea on electric piano, Dave Holland on acoustic and electric bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums and Airto Moreia on percussion and can be heard on the 2001 Columbia/Legacy release, Live At The Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It’s About That Time. The landmark Bitches Brew album was released in April and the band now included Steve Grossman, replacing Shorter on saxophone, with Holland playing electric bass exclusively. The April 10 performance was recorded by Columbia at the Fillmore West in San Francisco and released in Japan as Black Beauty in 1973 but did not see a domestic release until the 1997 CD (degraded soundboard recordings from April 11 have been included on The Bootleg Series Vol.3). By the time of this June 1970 Fillmore East run, Miles had added Keith Jarrett on electric organ, thickening the texture and ratcheting up the volume and intensity level. Gary Bartz replaced Grossman in August, appearing at the Isle of Wight Festival on the 29th (which can be found on the 2011 Bitches Brew Live CD). Then, Holland would leave the band in October, to be replaced by the teenaged Michael Henderson, who brought a dark, hypnotic funk groove to the music (see The Cellar Door Sessions box set from 2005, recorded December 16-19, 1970 in Washington D.C.).

As one of the only documents of this short-lived version of the working band, the restoration of these tapes is of monumental historical importance. There was a reason Miles wanted to try to squeeze these four nights onto the two discs allotted him by the label: his band was on fire! The quality of the recordings is also superb—much better than the March 7 debacle. The heavily edited LP contains some hot music, for sure, but to be able to hear these complete sets uninterrupted is extraordinary. Accusations that Miles Davis was somehow selling out playing electric music for rock kids at the Fillmore needs only to listen with an open mind. This is intensely challenging, at times downright harrowing music. It is also joyous, playful and always intensely musical. It is all these things. It is Miles Davis music. If you’re reading, you already know. What more is there to say except what a treat it is to hear Jarrett and Corea with Dave Holland on bass?

Unlike previous volumes of the Bootleg Series, which were derived from crude radio and TV broadcasts, all of the June 1970 material was professionally recorded by Columbia to eight-track tape and newly mixed for this release. Accordingly, the sound quality is excellent, enhanced by superlative mastering by Mark Wilder. Rumor has it that Music On Vinyl will be putting this out on LP—but I don’t really see the point. With the set lists running 45-to-over-50 minutes without a break, this music was made for CD (or, even better, SACD or Blu-Ray—but, hey, we can’t have everything). I love vinyl but I have my limits! This volume of The Bootleg Series is perfect in just about every way and essential listening for every fan of Miles Davis’s electric period.


Sam said...

Nice review, Rodger---definitely a must-have. I see also you were on a Brand X kick--what did you think? "Moroccan Roll" was my fave back in the day. Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2014-03-31

*Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: 2013-12-23 Nashville (wav)
*John Coltrane: Live in Japan “Afro Blue”
*Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (“Spanish Key”)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-03-15 Pyramid Atlantic, Silver Spring MD (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2014-03-19 Musicircus, University of Richmond (wav)
*Sun Ra: Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow
*Deerhoof: Breakup Song
*High Llamas: Talahomi Way
*Residents: Not Available

Reading List 2014-03-31

*Alexander, Lloyd. Taran Wanderer (started)
*Shakespeare, William. Love’s Labour’s Lost (Arden ed., 2nd series, ed. R.W. David) (reread/started)
*Alexander, Lloyd. The Castle of Llyr (started/finished)
*Alexander, Lloyd. The Black Cauldron (started/finished)
*Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three (started/finished)
*Willingham, Bill, et al. Fables: Legends in Exile (started/finished)
*Willingham, Bill, et al. Fables: Animal Farm (started/finished)
*Gaddis, William. A Frolic of His Own (finished)
*Weldon, Michael J. Psychotronic Video Guide (in progress)

Rodger Coleman said...

"Morroccan Roll" is definitely their most consistent album, but I really like "Livestock" as well. Phil Collins's drumming is just killer on that. There are things to like on all their all albums, but it gets a little slick and wanky at times.

Sam said...

Oh, yeah, "Livestock!" haven't puled that one out in years. I definitely remember them getting pretty slick by the time the one with the alligator on the cover came out (in spite of the Michael Palin appearance).