Miles Davis - trumpet; Wayne Shorter - tenor and soprano sax; Chick Corea - electric piano; Dave Holland - bass; Jack DeJohnette - drums; Airto Moriera - percussion
Miles Davis, on a bill that also featured the Steve Miller Band and headliners Neil Young and Crazy Horse, typifies the musical diversity that Bill Graham often embraced at the Fillmores. This historic run began a major crossroads in Miles Davis' career. This and the previous night would mark the first performances Miles played before a rock audience after years of performing in smoky dark jazz club settings. From all accounts, this was an eye-opening experience for the audience, as well as Miles himself. Never one to stand still, these concerts find Miles fully entrenched in a new musical direction that would blur the lines between rock and jazz forever.
Throughout his career, Miles mentored and collaborated with younger musicians who would move on to greater fame, but few played with more fire than they did under Miles direction. This band is a prime example. Due to the extraordinary musicianship and the 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), Miles would play a coded phrase to signal the musicians to transition into another direction.
This spontaneous approach by a jazz musician who was now embracing amplified electric instrumentation caused quite a stir in 1970. Although he was consciously ignoring the expectations of his well-established fanbase, this era of Miles's music would have a profound influence on younger jazz musicians, the progressive rock movement in Europe, as well as rock musicians like the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. This was near the beginning of a five-year stretch where Miles would take his music in radically different directions and to an intensity level that few have ever matched. Despite this music being initially difficult to grasp, concentrated listening proves quite rewarding.
Both performances on this second night of the run find Miles over the initial displacement of playing to such a large rock audience for the first time. Both March 7th sets contain staggering performances that display relentless creativity from beginning to end. Feeling more comfortable, Miles also strays from the previous night's setlist, which provides a more spontaneous edge to these sizzling performances.
-Written by Alan Bershaw