Miles Davis - trumpet; Wayne Shorter - tenor and soprano saxophones; Chick Corea - electric piano; Dave Holland - bass; Jack DeJohnette - drums; Airto Moreira - percussion
Miles Davis, opening on a bill that also featured the Steve Miller Band and headliners Neil Young and Crazy Horse, exemplifies the musical diversity that Bill Graham often embraced at the Fillmores. This historic stint of shows came at the beginning of a major crossroads in Davis' career. This night and the next were the first time Miles played before a rock audience after years of performing in smoky, dark club settings. From all accounts, this was an eye opening experience - for both the audience and Miles himself.
Never one to stand still, this concert finds Miles fully launched in a new musical direction that would blur the lines between rock and jazz forever. A jazz musician embracing instruments both electric and amplified was relatively unheard of in 1970. Due to the extraordinary musicianship of Davis' band at this time, along with their tendency to play continuously for an entire set, it can be difficult for the casual listener to take it all in. Rather than announce a song to the audience, or to his band for that matter, Davis would often simply play a coded phrase that signaled the transition into another direction to the band.
This era of Davis' music would come to have a profound influence on younger jazz musicians, the progressive rock movement in Europe, in addition to rock musicians like the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. This was the beginning of a five year stretch during which Davis began taking his music to an intensity level few have ever matched. Concentrated listening is a requirement to truly appreciate Miles' music in the early 1970's. This night at the Fillmore East demonstrates all of the above, but is slightly less adventurous and aggressive than the following night, when the band really cuts loose. The basic structure to the setlist is the same for both early and late shows, but the improvisation takes each set in distinctive directions. These recordings, made by Columbia Records in hopes of cutting a live album at the time, capture a key moment in the history of jazz if not modern music in general - a monumental moment that, even now, one can still have the chance to witness.
-Written by Alan Bershaw