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Miles at the Fillmore - March 2014 package-release
on 24 March 2014
This 4-CD package is an official release of Miles' four nights at The Fillmore East rock palace between 17-20 June 1970, complete and unedited.
First, the packaging is exemplary. A 5-fold jewel case presents each performance on its own brightly-coloured CD (blue for 17th, yellow for 18th, pink for 19th, orange for 20th). Additionally you get 3x bonus tracks from the April 11th performance at the Fillmore West (2 bolted onto the end of the first disk, one on the third). A 32-page booklet containing an extended essay by Michael Cuscana and plenty of photos evokes the period to perfection, and you also get an odd monochrome foldout mini-poster of the band in concert, with contemporary news clippings on the reverse.
Now, the music. This was the first outing for the 2-keyboard player line-up of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, with Steve Grossman replacing Wayne Shorter as sideman on sax three months prior to these recordings. The rhythm section of young-Brit bass player Dave Holland with drummer Jack DeJohnette, and percussionist/flautist Airto Moreira continued unchanged through the European tour that summer, including the seminal gig at the Isle of Wight Festival available on the DVD `Miles Electric'. Only Jarrett is missing from the Fillmore West bonus tracks from April, as by that date he was not in the band.
Here is the fusion-era band on top form: tight, adventurous, ever pushing the boundaries, feeling their way through long improvisations and exploring new dynamics each night so no two performances are the same. If you're a devotee of Miles' BB era and jazz fusion in general, you're in for a treat. The live-performance pieces as titled are sometimes only just recognizable as the studio originals of the same name, so far do the improvisations journey from the main groove.
I would caution that this collection will probably appeal most to aficionados: if you can't listen to the studio release of BB for a couple of hours and enjoy the atonal experimental mind-warping creativity on offer, but instead prefer to groove to some of Miles' more ambient creations, these Fillmore concerts may be a bit much for you.
Some claim Miles Davis to be the single greatest musical innovator of the 20th century, an assessment with which I would concur. These Fillmore concerts, from his most creative 1969-1975 period, support this view and this package does the music full justice. RIP Miles.