I remember when Miles Davis died. My friend Katy wept like a baby and I shared her heavy heart. Miles was legendary. I loved this man so much that I named my son after him. Perhaps this is why he turned out to be such a fine musician in his own right. (Spelled “Miles” with a “y” however, because everyone else in the family had a “y” in their names.)
The Tanglewood performance shown in the video below, was possibly the largest audience that Miles Davis had encountered up to that point. His extraordinary band, containing many soon to be legendary musicians, was all deeply immersed in the early experiments into electric instrumentation.
This incendiary performance captures Miles embracing a rock dynamic in his music that was more electric, more funky, more rhythmic, and simply more “out there” than anything that had proceeded it.
Much of the material performed this night derives from Miles’ studio sessions during the groundbreaking In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew album sessions. Because the performance remains one long continuous suite, it allows one to follow the flow and logic of the music over an extended period of time. This continual flow, devoid of announcements identifying the songs, often left critics and some listeners confused, but focused listening reveals that distinct changes are taking place. Miles is thoroughly in control of the musical direction at all times, whether he is in the forefront or not. Miles guides the music back to particular vamps or themes, continually bringing focus to the group improvisations. The swift and agile response of the musicians to Miles’ cues and coded phrases is truly remarkable and is a primary reason for the relentless intensity of this music.
Miles and his group were opening for Santana that night, as Carlos Santana had hand-selected Davis for the slot. Years later, Carlos had this to say about the performance: “They played music meant for the cosmos. It was out, it was in, it was unreal, and it was oh so glorious.”
The band: (I had the honor of seeing nearly all of these guys in person upon numerous occasions.)
Miles Davis – trumpet
Gary Bartz – soprano and alto sax
Chick Corea – electric piano
Keith Jarrett – organ, electric piano
Dave Holland – electric and acoustic bass
Jack DeJohnette – drums
Airto Moriera – percussion