Miles At The Fillmore (Box Set) by Miles Davis

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Shortly after releasing Bitches Brew, Miles Davis and his band began a four night stand at the Fillmore East on June 17, 1970. Bitches Brew had signified a new direction for his career. Lengthy solos were being replaced by an ensemble sound as he was taking his cues from the rock and funk music of the day. While he was still grounded in jazz, his new fusion style and sound began attracting rock fans.

His backing band at the Fillmore was one of the best of his career. Sax player Steve Grossman, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette, percussionist/vocalist Airto Moreira, pianist Chick Correa, and organist Keith Jarrett were some of the best jazz musicians available and formed a tight and talented unit. Jarrett and Correa would carry and change the melody while Dejohnette and Holland provided a foundation.  This allowed Davis and Grossman to weave in their sounds. They would constantly change direction and add new textures to the performances.

Back in the days of vinyl, a two disc set was released. It consisted of four medleys of material, one to each side. Remarkably the rest of the music sat in the vaults until now.

Miles At The Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Volume 3 is a four CD box set that contains all four complete concerts. It all adds up to over 100 minutes of unreleased music. Also included as bonus tracks are three performances from their April 11, 1970, concert at The Fillmore West, which means another 35 minutes of unreleased material. The band is the same except Keith Jarrett was not present. The three songs, “Paraphernalia,” “Footprints,” and a thunderous rendition of “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down” all clock in at over ten minutes and were not performed at any of the Fillmore East concerts.

The sound has been remastered from the original tapes. Both Fillmore’s had excellent recording equipment for the day and modern technology has created a pristine sound. Each musician is distinct, which increases the listening experience. A 32-page booklet not only gives a history of the concerts but provides a context for the music in so far as the era and Davis’ career are concerned. They also made the wise decision to place each night of music on its own disc. This enhances each individual concert experience.

Songs such as “Directions,” “The Mask,” “It’s About Time,” and “Bitches Brew” appear on all four discs. It is interesting to compare the performances and note not only the obvious but subtle changes as well.

The second performance of June 18 contains a surprise. Davis rarely performed an encore but here they played a ten minute “Spanish Key” from Bitches Brew. It was the only time the song was performed during his four night stay.

Miles At The Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Volume 3 finally resurrects one of the historic series of concerts in American music history. While they are emblematic of a certain period in the career of Miles Davis, they hold up well 44 years later. A must listen for any fan of Davis or jazz music.

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