MILES AT THE FILLMORE: MILES DAVIS 1970: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 3

Cover of "Bitches Brew"
Cover of Bitches Brew

Think of it, Miles Davis performing live at the Rock Palace, The Fillmore East from June 17-20, 1970. If only you could turn back time and be one of those lucky fans in attendance.

Well the next best thing (plus some cool extras) will soon be available from SONY Legacy Recordings (Amazon fulfills for them) and the Official Miles Davis Web Site.  The 4 CD Audio Box Set, MILES AT THE FILLMORE – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 will drop on March 25th, 2014.

This was the Electric Miles era that introduced the rock audience to jazz fusion through the epic recording, Bitches Brew

The 1970 band comprised Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and Steve Grossman.

Carlos Santana’s love, respect and friendship with Miles Davis has fine tuned me into Miles Davis with a focused intensity I love experiencing. Even today, Santana remains awestruck by Davis’ psychedelic proto-funk, as is made clear in his liner notes to a significant restoration of the old live album “Miles Davis at Fillmore”  

“You can hear that anger and darkness and the craziness of everything that was still in the air from the ’60s when this music was made,” says the guitarist Carlos Santana, a Fillmore regular and witness to the eruption of the electric Miles Davis. “If ever there was a time when a rock audience was willing to open their ears and hear some great modern jazz like the kind Miles was creating, it was at the Fillmore.”

The extras included with the box set differ based upon your point of purchase. Order your copy of the box set at MilesDavis.com and get the exclusive poster below with your purchase!

There are three added bonus tracks that add another 35 minutes of music, released here for the first time, recorded in April 1970,(right after Bitches Brew was released) at the Fillmore West in San Francisco (where Bill Graham put Miles and band on a bill with the Grateful Dead and Stone The Crows). That live evening will be included with your purchase, everywhere.

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Pat Metheny Unity Group – KIN (←→)

I dig Pat Metheny. He is a creative musician who composes and performs rich, textured music that I love to get lost inside.  I was informed this past week that the Pat Metheny Unity Group will be releasing a new album,  KIN (←→).

My affinity for vinyl prompted me to pre-order the German pressed 140-gram 2 LP set that includes a complete CD and an exclusive print of the cover art signed by Pat himself 😉

I love the graphics design for the album cover.

“The core quartet of Chris, Ben, Antonio and I played over 100 concerts over the year that followed the release of our Unity Band record. Over the course of that period, the band became one of those rare combinations of players where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – it gelled in every way, and that just seemed to beg for expansion and further research. Concurrently, I had been kind of itching to write more in the style that I had developed over the years with my regular groups and projects where there is a lush and more orchestrated kind of compositional conception that went beyond the sonic limits of what a straight ahead quartet might invoke. But I really didn’t want to lose the energy, focus and intensity of what this band had developed. I wanted to take it further. If the first Unity Band record was a thoughtful, black and white documentary of four musicians in a recording studio playing, this record is more like the Technicolor, IMAX version of what a band like this could be—but with that hardcore thing still sitting right in the middle of it all.” ~ Pat Metheny

The Pat Metheny Unity Group consists of Pat Metheny (Guitar), Chris Potter (Sax), Antonio Sanchez (Drums), Ben Williams (Bass), and Giulio Carmassi (Multi-Instrumentalist).

I see that the Pat Metheny Unity Group has announced a world tour and that a concert is taking place at the Quick Center for the Arts on the Fairfield University campus on March 25th, 2014. I plan to make that our first concert ticket buy for 2014 😉

Hot Rats – Frank Zappa

The music of our heart from a Father and Son point of view reflects on 1969 and the recording Hot Rats. 

Hot Rats is the second solo album by Frank Zappa, released in October 1969. It was Zappa’s first recording project after the dissolution of the original Mothers of Invention. In his original sleeve notes Zappa described the album as “a movie for your ears.”

Hot Rats is my favorite recording in the Frank Zappa discography. The track from this album that I can play endlessly is “Peaches En Regalia“, an instrumental jazz fusion piece.

The musicians on that track are:

  • Frank Zappa — guitar, octave bass.
  • Ian Underwood — keyboards, flute, saxophone, clarinet
  • Shuggie Otis — bass
  • Ron Selico — drums

The album was dedicated to Zappa’s newborn son, Dweezil Zappa. In February 2009, Dweezil’s band, Zappa Plays Zappa and former Zappa alumni Steve Vai andNapoleon Murphy Brock won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for their rendition of “Peaches en Regalia.”[6]

My Goals Beyond – Mahavishnu John McLaughlin

My Goal’s Beyond by Mahavishnu John McLaughlin creates a spirituality and healing power that resonates within the music of our heart. Listen to “Peace One” permitting the joy to radiate within and about you this day. Namaste’

My Goal’s Beyond – Mahavishnu John McLaughlin

Santana – Caravanserai

My favorite Santana studio recording is Caravanserai. It never ages or fails to intrigue me after 40 years.

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Caravanserai was released on October 11, 1972, the same day as Miles Davis’s On The Corner. Poetic justice for jazz fusion. Both recordings were on Columbia Records. Give them both a listen, back to back. That’s what Ralph J. Gleason did to prepare for his review of Caravanserai for Rolling Stone Magazine.

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Miles Davis – Electric Jazz-Fusion

Cover of "In a Silent Way"
Cover of In a Silent Way

I  should have made this blog post about Miles Davis the first post for the four-part jazz/rock fusion series this week. Miles invented jazz/rock fusion beginning with In A Silent Way in 1969.

My aim with this blog post is to celebrate Miles Davis’s leadership role in forging the electric jazz-fusion genre. It is my favorite Miles period in his evolutionary path.

One definitive work I discovered while researching Miles’s electric period is the book, Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991 by Paul Tingen. It covers Mile’s electric period in-depth. His companion Web site which is chock full of information is here.

I found it interesting as I researched the jazz/rock fusion artists the intersection points with Miles Davis. The Miles Davis school of jazz gave birth to Tony Williams and John McLaughlin, among many others. Miles nurtured a rich, mother vein of talent that he mined and shared with the universe. Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Dave Holland, Sonny Sharrock, Bennie Maupin, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, the list of jazz infamous goes on and on…..

John McLaughlin played a key role in Miles Davis’s formation and evolution of electric jazz-fusion. He is featured on In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson, Big Fun and On The Corner.

A pivotal point in Miles Davis’s electric jazz/fusion is the Isle of Wight concert that takes place before 600,000+ people in 1970. The largest human gathering of its time, exceeding the population of Woodstock the year before.

Miles Electric, A Different Kind of Blue documents this event on DVD.

Jeff Beck – Jazz/Rock Fusion Era

I trust my blog readers are enjoying this week’s topic of jazz/rock fusion.

Today’s subject is guitar aficionado Jeff Beck. I have been a huge fan of Jeff Beck’s ever since I saw him in 1969 as the headline act at The Fillmore East. He was fronting The Jeff Beck Group in those days, with Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on rhythm guitar and Nicky Hopkins on keyboards. I caught their final Fillmore appearance on July 3rd, 1969 (43 years ago…).

There is no denying the stunning contributions Jeff Beck has contributed to music over the decades. I was quite taken with his jazz/rock fusion era. It was such a game changer for him and the music being produced in the mid-70s.

With Blow by Blow, Beck delivered a fusion masterpiece. The collaboration with Sir George Martin, Max Middleton and Stevie Wonder delivers us a rich set of music legacy.

Asked to describe the music, Jeff Beck said, “It crosses the gap between white rock and Mahavishnu, or jazz-rock. It bridges a lot of gaps, It’s more digestible, the rhythms are easier are easier to understand than Mahavishnu’s. It’s more on the fringe.” (Source: Jeff Beck: The Fusion Years by Jas Obrecht, 2010)

The instrumental song from Blow by Blow,  “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” has become Jeff Beck’s signature classic. Every time I hear it, it stops me in my tracks. I understand perfectly why Stevie Wonder gave Jeff Beck this song. He knew it belonged to his magic fingers alone. There are very few song’s in jazz/rock fusion that epitomize the cry of the heart as “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”.  I have seen Jeff Beck do this song live twice and each time it was a moving experience.

Jeff Beck followed Blow by Blow with Wired in 1976. He switched it up by adding Jan Hammer on synthesizer and Narada Michael Walden on drums. They had  all jammed together while on tour with the Mahavishnu Orchestra the summer before, which was how the

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nucleus was formed. Wired was a tougher album to assimilate but once digested it stick to your ribs. The Charles Mingus track, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” grabbed me first. It has become a staple choice in Jeff Beck’s set lists. Jeff Beck and company execute it with total precision.

The third album in the series of Jeff Beck’s jazz/rock fusion era was titled,  Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live,  a chronicle of their 100-show tour together. Jan Hammer….

I am not too familiar with this particular recording or the one that follows it, There and Back. I owned and played often Blow by Blow and Wired. Writing this blog post today has helped me to examine and appreciate their live album. Thanks to Spotify I can listen to it in full :).

The fourth album in the Jeff Beck jazz/rock fusion series, There and Back is the most obscure recording to my ears. This album was released in June, 1980. It caps off the five-year investment Jeff Beck made in jazz/rock fusion admirably.

Asked how he worked out the material for the album, Beck said, “I ripped myself apart, and I ripped Tony Hymas apart. I tried to get him to understand where I was at because Tony came in as an emergency player back in’78 when we had a tour of Japan lined up and had a problem with another keyboard player. And Tony picked up so quickly and had such a good ear and his musical training and understanding was so superb, I couldn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be a good idea to start schooling him in my ways. Sounds insulting to say ‘school him’ when he knows more about music than I do, but that doesn’t mean what I’m doing is not valid. In the first two weeks he had already begun to see what I wanted without me saying anything. So most of the music on There and Back evolved through our playing together. Tony writes everything down. He just scribbles on the backs of pieces of paper. And then when we run through it, I say, ‘Well, here I can’t get along with this framework that I’ve got to solo over. Let’s change that – take this chord out of there and put it somewhere else.’ It’s just custom-building music between us. Of course, if it’s his song to start with, whatever happens to it, it’s still his song. I’ve reached the point where I need to be led somewhere – on a melody level, not so much on the technique or guitar trickery level. The stuff pours out of me when I’ve got the right tune. I can’t help it – it just pours out! But if the tune isn’t right, then I’ve got to push it a bit. If it’s totally wrong, I’ve got to drag it.” (Source: Jeff Beck: The Fusion Years by Jas Obrecht, 2010)

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I want to personally thank Jas Obrecht for his Web column, “Jeff Beck: The Fusion Years“. It kept me grounded and focused on this blog post. He is a very competent music journalist and I learned a great deal from his Jeff Beck piece. Should you want more details than my blog post accomplishes here I urge you to browse over and read Jas’s article.