Miles Davis at Fillmore East

COMPOSERS: Miles Davis,Various
LABELS: Columbia/Legacy
PERFORMER: Miles Davis (t), Wayne Shorter (ts, ss), Chick Corea (el p), Dave Holland (el b), Jack DeJohnette (d), Airto Moreira (perc)
CATALOGUE NO: C2K 85191

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This previously unissued concert recording from 7 March 1970, when Davis opened for the Steve Miller Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse at New York’s rock emporium Fillmore East, captures a period of his career outside the recording studio that has never been documented on disc.

The albums that chart his move into jazz-rock territory – In a Silent Way from February 1969, Bitches Brew from August 1969 and Jack Johnson from the following month – were all studio sessions recorded with a revolving cast of players, as were three subsequent compilation albums released in the Seventies.

This is Davis’s regular working band in his first live recording since the 1967 Plugged Nickel sessions. It contains some of his most adventurous playing on record. The rhythm section explores virgin territory with Corea reflecting the influence of Stockhausen, Messiaen, Varèse and Ligeti through the prism of his jazz sensibilities where abstraction blurs with the infinite.

Equally, like all great jazz it reflects what was going on in society around it, since contemporary culture has always created a context from which we extract meaning from music, as culture does not operate in isolation from society.

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Everyday television was bringing shocking scenes of the Vietnam War, student protests and racial tension erupting in America’s inner cities. Davis’s music reflects these times; it is explosive, restless music and a revelation. Stuart Nicholson