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Black Beauty: Miles Davis At Fillmore West (Live)

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Album Review

A month after losing Wayne Shorter to the beginnings of Weather Report, Miles Davis added young saxophonist Steve Grossman to the fold that included drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Dave Holland, electric pianist Chick Corea, and percussionist Airto Moreira. Just in time, too, since Bitches Brew had just been released. What is most interesting about this performance is how abstract it is, even by the standards exacted on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Opening with Joe Zawinul's "Directions," with a small three-note vamp, Davis creates a spaciousness for Grossman to hit the stratosphere and for both Holland and DeJohnette to literally fall freely as a rhythm section as long as they could find a groove. The band seems to open too far; they can't seem to find each other in the maelstrom. Davis lays out, watching it all, directing from the sidelines. On "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," since there is a discernible though minimal melody and groove, the band brings it in tighter, focusing on Davis smattering blues notes and Corea's distorted chord voicings. This is where the band hits their stride, and keeps it through "Willie Nelson" and the Sammy Cahn tune, an odd choice for this part of the program, "I Fall in Love Too Easily." From the opening of "Sanctuary" through "It's About That Time," "Bitches Brew," "Masqualero," and "Spanish Key/The Theme," the music become a kind of suite that doesn't really stop. It may pause in spots, but it loops through modal figures before disintegrating completely. There is no harmony to speak of and melody has become an extinct concept. What matters most is the nuance of groove and rhythm, and Davis found both in this band, though Grossman's playing is too busy and too green; he plays everything he knows in every solo. It's a small complaint, as this is an exciting document of a band trying to come to grips with the power of a music they don't even fully understand yet.

Customer Reviews

Miles Rocks The Voodoo Down!

Miles and his gang on the bill at Fillmore West, with the Grateful Dead (!). Even the posters from this weekend are classic. This is a complete show from the second of four nights. Sound quality is excellent, Miles drives the band like one of his Ferraris. By this time all the material was from the mid-1960s, except for just a snippet of "I Fall in Love Too Easily", which Miles was blending with "Sanctuary" in his Ballad Interlude. Another great extended version of Directions. Voodoo was starting to get really heavy by this time. Live versions of recent studio material (Tracks 6 through 9). This edition of the band only existed for a few months, Keith Jarrett was about to join (and eventually replace) Chick Corea on keyboards. Overall, simply a Must Have -- get in the time machine and go to Fillmore West!

Mind Blowing

Stunning period of Miles Davis. This in my opinion is one of the greatest live albums ever recorded !


This is so obscenely funky, so abstract, so raw, so distorted, so grungy and oh so nasty (bravo, Chick Corea)...that this really dosen't qualify as jazz. This is the sound of GREAT musicians pushing themselves to unknown territory. Jack DeJohnette's funky grooves, Chick Corea's frightning keyboards, and Miles' herculean power trumpet all battle and mesh and melt together. I've been told by those who were there that they stood with their jaws dropped...they REALLY didn't know what to make of this cutting edge sound. Truly on a par with the rocking DARK MAGUS and sinister ON THE CORNER and possibly even scarier than those awesome records. MILES IS A LEGEND!!!!!!!!!!!


Born: May 26, 1926 in Alton, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the...
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