International Jazz Day 2018

Electric Miles 1969-1974 Introduction #jazzday

Welcome back one and all. For regular fans of my weekly audio anthology program "What You're Not Listening To", the format of this particular program may seem a little odd. The period covered for this program, a very special one for International Jazz Day 2018, is broken into nine sections. This show is dedicated to the "Electric" period of Miles Davis (1926-1991), where he led a wave of Jazz that fused elements of Rock, Funk, Avant Garde and Psychedelia into a heady mix.

During this 5 1/2 year stretch, Miles Davis released no less than 10 double albums and several other single volumes of material. Some of this was released shortly after it was recorded, some of it released while Davis was on tour to keep new product on the shelves and some of it released posthumously. After this intense period of recording and touring the world several times, Davis took a much needed and very long break to focus on his health and well-being, which had suffered greatly during this period due to his increasing drug and alcohol intake.

It is a period that turned the Jazz and Pop world upside down. Davis, who was an artist who was not content to play his hits like a jukebox, kept pushing the envelope over and over again. It is an often misunderstood but highly influential period in his recorded legacy, and one I am proud to share with all of you today. In addition to the detailed research our regular fans have come to expect, I will also be reading passages from Davis's autobiography, released a year before his passing to give what I hope is a truly honest, first person account of his recordings during this period.

All segments will be available for free streaming or download, your choice, and all are commercial and ad free. All are presented in HQ audio, 256 variable bit rate. Some sections, read from Miles Davis's autobiography, are NSFW.

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Electric Miles: IJD2018

Producer's Note on Images

These are the original album covers as they initially appeared upon release. Some of these titles have been altered for archival releases, and some do not exist anymore due to more comprehensive archival reissues. One in particular, Jack Johnson, has a radically different cover today of Davis playing the trumpet with his legs slightly bent at the knees, which is the pose I used to create the filament in the light bulb poster above. (You can download this poster free by clicking on the image above.)

Part 1: In A Silent Way, Recorded and Released 1969

Track: Shhh/Peaceful

In a Silent Way marked the beginning of the "Electric" period of Miles Davis. It became a minor hit on the Billboard Top 200 LP charts, being his first LP to do so in four years. Lester Bangs, the legendary rock critic, wrote the following for a review in Rolling Stone magazine: "The kind of album that gives you faith in the future of music. It is not rock and roll, but it's nothing stereotyped as jazz either."

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
  • John McLaughlin – guitar
  • Chick Corea – electric piano
  • Herbie Hancock – electric piano
  • Joe Zawinul – electric piano, organ
  • Dave Holland – bass
  • Tony Williams – drums

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Part 2: Big Fun, Recorded 1969-1972, Released 1974

Track: Lonely Fire

A compilation album of leftover tracks recorded during Davis's electric period, the original double vinyl LP only had four tracks on it, each taking up en entire side of the album. The tracks are recorded by a variety of line-ups, which cause the overall sound of the release to sound like a multi-artist collection. In a review for the album, Billboard magazine stated that Davis "has the creativity of mind and expertise of profession to break away from the conventional."

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
  • Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
  • Khalil Balakrishna – sitar, Indian instruments
  • Chick Corea – electric piano
  • Joe Zawinul – electric piano, Farfisa organ
  • Dave Holland – double bass
  • Harvey Brooks – Fender bass guitar
  • Jack DeJohnette – drums
  • Billy Cobham – drums
  • Airto Moreira – Indian instruments, percussion

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Part 3: At Fillmore, Recorded and Released 1970

Track: Thursday Miles, June 18th (Directions, The Mask, It's About That Time)

Recorded over a four day period at Bill Graham's Fillmore East auditorium in New York City, these performances were heavily edited once again by Davis's producer at Columbia, Teo Macero. It was a double live vinyl album. Each of the four sides represented the day of the week the band had played. Davis performed here to break out of the Jazz ghetto of small, smokey nightclubs where amplified performances were typically not welcomed.

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Steve Grossman – tenor and soprano sax, flute
  • Chick Corea – Fender Rhodes electric piano
  • Keith Jarrett – Fender Contempo Organ
  • Dave Holland – acoustic and electric bass
  • Jack DeJohnette – drums
  • Airto Moreira – percussion, cuica

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Part 4: Live Evil, Recorded 1970, Released 1971

Track: Funky Tonk

Live Evil is a double album, recorded partially on December 19, 1970 at The Cellar Door, Washington, DC, live . This track was put together in a pastiche style, with elements of performances cut and pasted together and engineered to sound as if it was an uninterrupted piece, like many of Davis's recordings of the period. It was well received by the hip Rock press of the day, but generally disliked by traditional Jazz reviewers.

  • Miles Davis: trumpet with wah-wah
  • Gary Bartz: soprano saxophone, flute
  • John McLaughlin: electric guitar
  • Keith Jarrett: electric piano, organ
  • Michael Henderson: electric bass
  • Jack DeJohnette: drums
  • Airto Moreira: percussion

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Part 5: Bitches Brew, Recorded 1969, Released 1969

Track: Pharaoh's Dance

Though technically not the first Jazz Fusion album, Bitches Brew is the one that not only has become the gold standard in terms of the genre, it rekindled an interest in Jazz music like no other album had done in the the late 1960's. By the time of the release of the album, Jazz was a commercially dying force. It not only became the first Jazz album many baby boomers purchased, it also became Davis's only Billboard Top 40 album, as well as his first gold record. It is as important to Jazz music of this era as Sgt. Pepper was to Rock and Roll.

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – soprano saxophone
  • Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
  • Joe Zawinul – electric piano – Left
  • Larry Young – electric piano – Center
  • Chick Corea – electric piano – Right
  • John McLaughlin – electric guitar
  • Dave Holland – bass
  • Harvey Brooks – electric bass
  • Lenny White – drum set – Left
  • Jack DeJohnette – drum set – Right
  • Don Alias – congas
  • Juma Santos (credited as "Jim Riley") – shaker

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Part 6: A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Recorded 1970, Released 1971

Track: Right Off

Recorded over a period of two days, months apart, in 1970, this release was actually the soundtrack to a film about the boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion. Davis felt a real kinship with the man, even penning the liner notes to the album himself. These liner notes would echo statements made by Davis prior to his retirement about what it means to a successful Black man in the United States. Though not a massive success initially upon its, Sony/BMG, the label that owns Davis's catalogue during this period, states that it is a strong and consistent seller.

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Steve Grossman – soprano saxophone
  • John McLaughlin – electric guitar
  • Herbie Hancock – organ
  • Michael Henderson – electric bass
  • Billy Cobham – drums

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Part 7: Get Up With It, Recorded 1970-1974, Released 1974

Tracks: Rated X (1972) and Mtume (1974)

Get Up With It is another double album of material unused by Miles Davis. Some of the material on it, however, had been performed live. Like many of the albums Davis recorded during his electric period, it was generally disliked by Jazz critics, but found a home decades later with younger Pop and Rock critics and fans. When the album was reissued in 2000, Alternative Press stated  it was "essential ... the overlooked classic of psychedelic soul and outlandish improv.”

Rated X personnel:

  • Miles Davis — organ
  • Cedric Lawson — electric piano
  • Reggie Lucas — electric guitar
  • Khalil Balakrishna — electric sitar
  • Michael Henderson — bass guitar
  • Al Foster — drums
  • James Mtume — percussion
  • Badal Roy — tabla

Mtume personnel:

  • Miles Davis — electric trumpet with wah-wah, organ
  • Pete Cosey — electric guitar
  • Reggie Lucas — electric guitar
  • Dominique Gaumont — electric guitar
  • Michael Henderson — bass guitar
  • Al Foster — drums
  • James Mtume — percussion
  • Sonny Fortune — flute

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Part 8: On The Corner, Recorded and Released 1972

Track: On The Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin' Of One Thing And Doin' Another/Vote For Miles

Contemporary Jazz reviews of On The Corner were less than favorable. CODA magazine printed that the music was "pure arrogance". Davis biographer Bill Coleman stated in 1974 it was "an insult to the intellect of the people." Saxophonist Stan Getz proclaimed "that music is worthless." Its legend has grown over time, being given iconic status in modern music journalism sites like Pitchfork, calling it the 30th best album of the 1970's. Interestingly, Davis himself played his trumpet infrequently, spending a great deal of time on the organ.

  • Miles Davis – electric trumpet with wah-wah, organ
  • Carlos Garnett – soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
  • Dave Liebman – soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
  • Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
  • Chick Corea – Fender Rhodes, keyboards
  • Herbie Hancock – Fender Rhodes, keyboards
  • Harold Ivory Williams – keyboards
  • Cedric Lawsonorgan
  • Dave Creamerguitar
  • Reggie Lucas – guitar
  • John McLaughlin – guitar
  • Khalil Balakrishna electric sitar
  • Collin Walcott – electric sitar
  • Michael Henderson – bass guitar
  • Don Alias – drums, percussion
  • Jack DeJohnette – drums
  • Al Foster drums
  • Billy Hart – drums
  • James Mtume – percussion
  • Badal Roy – tabla

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Part 9: Agharta, Recorded and Released 1975 (Initial Release Japan, North America 1976)

Special Bonus Track: Maiysha

Initially, I was only going to include 8 segments to this program, but felt compelled to feature a track from this performance. While Davis was on a three-week tour of Japan, he recorded enough material to fill two double albums: Agharta and Pangea. The former was from a set of afternoon performances on the first of February, 1975, the latter from evening performances at the same venue on the same day. The release of this recording in the summer of 1975 coincided with Davis's retirement from the music business until 1980 due to his failing health.

  • Pete Cosey – guitar, percussion, synthesizer
  • Miles Davis – organ, trumpet
  • Sonny Fortune – alto saxophone, flute, soprano saxophone
  • Al Foster – drums
  • Michael Henderson – bass
  • Reggie Lucas – guitar
  • James Mtume – congas, percussion, rhythm box, water drum

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Love to you all. Happy International Jazz Day 2018!

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for 'fair use' for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

A very special thank you to my Husbear Travis, Baby Boy Ron, Gypsy Girl and the staff of the Beaverton City Library for, well, everything.

Primary Research Materials

Miles: The Autobiography
Miles Davis (author) and Quincy Troupe (collaborator)

Paperback: 448 pages. Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (September 20, 2011). Language: English. ISBN-13: 978-1451643183. originally published on September 15, 1990. 

The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
Franck Bergerot, Individual Album Anthology
Frederic Goaty, Biography

Released January 19, 2010 by Sony/BMG/Legacy, Catalogue Number: 886 97524 922


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