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.
La Rubia, my long-suffering significant other, shoots me an overindulgent “Yes dear” kind of look as she realises that the package that has just plopped through the postbox is yet another (Yet another? Yet another!) live Miles set. I cautiously avoid the information that, in a way, I already have this one, discretion being the better part of valour at times.
Originally released in heavily edited form due to the limitations of vinyl, this set is supposedly the complete recordings from four nights at the Fillmore East during June 1970. Yet despite having owned and played the original release for a long time now I struggled to recognise anything on CD1, and CD2, whilst starting off sounding familiar, soon moves into unfamiliar ground. There’s some intriguing fiddling with the potentials of the new electronic keyboards, and DeJohnette’s drums are relentless, though sometimes their syncopation works against the flow (a good thing, in this context) and it is Dave Holland’s metronomic bass which is the lynchpin of the enterprise, holding it together rhythmically. As an encore, CD2 features a previously unreleased version of Spanish Key that is almost worth the price of the record on its own.
On CD3 the breakdown in Bitches Brew sounds familiar, but looking at the timings on the liner that appears to be the only piece that survived the cutting room floor on the original release. On CD4, notwithstanding a different title on the original, the opening is instantly recognisable, but with the first statement of the chorus from Directions it becomes fresh and new again. Occasionally, further familiar passages crop up, such as during another Bitches Brew, but overall the good news is that, just like releasing the complete Cellar Doors recordings did not kill Live Evil, so the original Fillmore East release will stand as a valid recording in its own right, and it’s a tribute to the engineering on that release that none of the joins were discernible.
CD1 and CD3 feature between them three tunes from an earlier gig at Fillmore West. On CD1 this is almost better than the Fillmore East material that precedes it, with a richer sound and more driven pace. Miles Runs The Voodoo Down on CD3 is also different in some respects from the East material, being somewhat funkier, DeJohnette’s drums have a different tone, and the mix is different. Unfortunately, possibly due to the original tapes, this dies a rather sudden, ignominious death. The good news from this respect, though, is that whilst I had doubts about mixing the East and West material as it has been, it actually works rather well.
There’s no doubt in my mind that, first, this is the best “Bootleg” release yet in the series, and that second, like the others, it’s mostly not actually a bootleg, although the West material may well be. So far Sony have been quite lucky in plundering years where Miles was relatively well and was touring constantly. Their challenge, if they intend to continue with the series, will come with 1971 and 1973, years for which there is very little live material available, and none, to my knowledge, on Sony. But if they can get it, I’ll be first in line.
on 24 March 2014
Volume 3 of the Bootleg Series documenting rare or unheard live performances by Miles Davis is probably the pick of the three volumes to date if only because these are professionally recorded concerts in absolutely stellar sound quality (bar the three 'bonus' tracks from earlier gigs at the Fillmore West which are slightly 'muffled'). The price is absurd (I paid just over £15) for 4+ hours of music with beautiful packaging and a thick wad of liner notes by the noted jazz authority (and Miles curator); Michael Cuscuna with plenty of evocative pictures.
The music itself from four sets at the Fillmore East over consecutive nights is extraordinary and a very different beast from Miles studio sets of the time (and not for the faint hearted!) with plenty of ferocious free playing inter-dispersed with the funkier sections and one track seguing into another with no breaks (basically a very long medley). At this point Keith Jarrett was still settling into the band playing distorted and echoplexed organ more for colouration and texture rather than playing actually melodies with the dominant melodic role being taken by Chick Corea's Fender Rhodes (also echoplexed and distorted much of the time). Dave Holland's electric bass anchors the whole thing which is just as well when things are getting pretty wild. Jack DeJohnette demonstrates amazing versatility seemingly equally comfortable in both the rhythmic and free sections. Airto does his percussive thing with occasion outbursts on his flute and whistle, not making entire musical sense but keeping things lively, and every so often he gets a bit overexcited and starts shouting and exhorting to the band. Steve Grossman plays intense, real intense with his Coltrane-isms turned up to the max bringing real energy to the proceedings. Finally Miles is at his fusion best, still playing his unembellished horn at this point; unencumbered by the wah-wah pedal, etc, which I believe diminished his playing and even his role in his bands from the December '70 Cellar Door performances onwards (though his bands still churned out great music). Consequently Miles ably adapts to the music around him aggressive when necessary but also capable of slowing things down and playing ethereal on ballad features such as the old perennial "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and Wayne Shorter's "Sanctuary".
The three bonus tracks are from the April 1970 Fillmore West gigs and whilst certainly inferior in sound quality are excellent performances chosen intelligently to highlight tracks not present on the four Fillmore East sets (which unusually for Miles stick to a fairly concise, consistent set-list from night-to-night) comprising "Voodoo", "Paraphernalia" & "Footprints" - the latter two tracks from the songbook of his great mid-60's quintet.
To conclude, in my opinion the pick of the three Bootleg sets released to date and ridiculous value for money however this is intense music not for casual or background listening since it grabs you by the lapels and won't let go so you have to either accept this or go back to listening to "In A Silent Way".
on 25 March 2014
This is an otherwordly release - music made 44 years ago that sound like it's being beamed from our distant future.
Superb sound quality, and of course the full unedited shows, means this blows away that 1970-released live album from this run At Fillmore.
Utterly recommended to anyone with the mind and heart open enough to receive this visionary music in the spirit with which it was created.
Bootleg Series Vol 3?? - I must query the title "Bootleg" as edited versions of some of these recordings were issued as a double album "Miles Davis At The Fillmore" and the recordings were produced by Teo Macero. Anyway, these recordings are first rate, and released at such a bargain price (I could not believe how cheap it worked out on pre-order!).
So we have hear 4 consecutive nights at the Fillmore East with the added bonus of a couple a tracks from the Fillmore West 11/4/70 tagged on to CD1 and another from the same gig tagged in to CD3. If you liked the Cellar Door Sessions which were recorded 16-19/12/70 (6 CD box), then this makes a superb companion set, and a fraction of the price!!! Although the personnel are not the same, there is the similarity in the desperate search for something new in my opinion, and there are some duplication of numbers, although of course different. I suppose some 40+ years later, the audacity and challenging nature of these recordings might not be quite so evident, but at the time Miles was walking on the edge, (but didn't he always in reality). One of the things that has always attracted me to Miles music is the fact that he never stayed in a comfortable place, but spent his life moving forward, experimenting and pushing the boundaries of jazz continually - the over four hours of music here is testament to that.
As each of these volumes is produced, the recording quality and packaging is improving. There is no hint of anything but a good recordings here and the fold-out digipak contains along with the CDs a large foldout poster with reprints of reviews on the other side together with a 32 page booklet - the whole package is nearly 3 cm thick - like I've said ridiculous value for money.
If you liked Miles in the early 70s, for heaven's sake buy this!!!
Roll on Vol 4 is what I say.
on 28 March 2014
More than 30 years ago, I bought this record on vinyl. Although I adored the playing of Miles, Steve Grossman, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, I never really liked the sound of Chick Corea's distorted electric piano, and Keith Jarrett's endless noodling on organ got on my nerves from time to time. But on the whole, the record was totally wild, it exploded with energy, and the sound on vinyl was fabulous.
I was therefore very excited when the complete Fillmore East recordings were finally made public. But what the hell happened to the original sound? True, it sounds clean, but aseptically so. It's as if the remix engineer took away an entire dimension of the music! It positively sounds castrated!
There's another thing I don't understand (forgive me, I'm Belgian) and which i haven't read any comments about, so what I'm going to say is probably stupid, but anyway... What is this cd box doing in a bootleg series? When the original Columbia recording came out, it wasn't a bootleg at all. And now that we get the integral recording, it's suddenly a bootleg. I don't get this. Is this just another marketing trick?
Four seering hot concerts from Miles' four day stop over at the Fillmore East in June 1970 at a time when his band was in flux and searching desperately for new directions in music, often the subtext of albums of this period. Despite the title the recordings from these sets are top notch, having been used as the basis of Miles At Fillmore in 1971. What you get here are the full, unedited sets, lots of new material and, as is usual, track titles are notional placeholders for a different improvisation each show. Beautifully packaged, each CD coloured differently with an extensive booklet included, the £12 paid is amazing value for so much music. To fill discs 1 & 3 three tracks from April 1970 at the Fillmore West are included as bonus, with the tracks more of interest for historical relevance than clarity which is significantly inferior to the East shows, but as bonuses, no complaints. To these ears better than Vol.2 of The Bootleg Series, slightly behind Vol.1, but beating The Second Great Quintet would be a tough ask anyway. A worthy addition for any fan of Miles' electric period.
on 29 March 2014
Having already purchased “Live at the Fillmore East March 7, 1970, it’s about that time” (excellent concert, although pretty intense, a bit like a prequel to “Dark Magus”), I was quite pleased to see that it wasn’t included on this new box set (one does grow weary of re-buying the same CD’s over & over again).
So although there are four concerts over four nights in a row, remarkably there all pretty unique sounding gigs, & certainly not just carbon copies of the same show.
Interestingly they isn’t any guitar player in Mile’s band (unlike on Bitches Brew) but the sound is so complex & layered you can’t really tell the difference.
So perhaps not the best starting point for your Miles Davis “Electric Period” collection (I would suggest you first dipping you Jazz toe in with “A tribute to Jack Johnson), but still a essential series of recordings.
on 2 January 2015
Just to throw my hat into the ring....a super set!Although I think Miles was inspired by a love of money rather than innovation to fuse Jazz and Rock,he did it superbly,as anyone listening to these performances can testify.It's odd that,along with Dylan,Miles seems to have had so much excellent material left in the archives,while lesser stuff has received official release(I refer to,in particular,the last output,not awful,but certainly not a fitting epitaph for someone of Miles' stature).What else can we expect from the cutting room floor?Treasures,if the bootleg offerings so far are anything to go by.
This is the best of three bootlegs so far. I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed by last years Volume 2. It went too far for my tastes, too avant garde, too much aimless noodling. I liked parts of it but I couldn't cope with large parts of it and it has sat in my cd collection largely unlistened too for about 10 months. When this one was announced I checked out the original release from the 1970's to see if it was more of the same or whether Miles had tightened things up a bit. Well he certainly had. This is a much better release, yes there are parts that still go a bit too far, mainly The Mask, but other than that this is Miles and his band at the top of their game. Things are far more focused and that whole Bitches Brew vibe just shines throughout the whole album. If you're a fan of this era of Miles' music then this is a must, a real snip at £17. Over 4 hours of Miles at his incredible best, wonderfully packaged, the booklet in this package much better than the fold out poster notes in Volume 2 and the recordings sound excellent, although the three tracks from The Fillmore West are slightly closer to true bootleg quality, albeit top notch bootleg quality. This has hardly been out of the cd player for the past month and has even encouraged me to dip my toe back into volume 2 (Still a bit too out there). A classic, I wonder what else they've got in store for us.