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Miles Davis - In Concert: Live at Philharmonic Hall CD (album) cover

IN CONCERT: LIVE AT PHILHARMONIC HALL

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.93 | 17 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Because the bar for live albums from the electrified Miles Davis was set so high with the triple threat of 'Dark Magus', 'Agharta', and 'Pangaea', this (likewise) double-disc gets treated at times like a poor relation, the backwards cousin you're embarrassed to be seen in public with. But don't dismiss it too quickly: there's plenty of worthwhile music here, documenting yet another fascinating mutation in the ongoing evolution of a forward-thinking artist.

Davis was already miles away (so to speak) from anything resembling acoustic Jazz, and by late 1972 he was beginning to outpace even his own Jazz Rock Fusion innovations. This live set was recorded mere days before the release of his controversial avant-funk album 'On the Corner', and was likewise built on long, mesmerizing group improvisations, flowing like water around the unyielding rock of Michael Henderson's repetitive bass lines, with very little traditional soloing, even by Davis.

It may have been that his touring band at the time simply lacked a natural soloist like Chick Corea, or Wayne Shorter. The keyboards and saxophone (played by Cedric Lawson and Carlos Garnett: neither one a part of the Davis stock company for long) were just two more ingredients in a dense musical stew. And the album has attracted some criticism for not featuring ace guitarist Pete Cosey, who would join the live ensemble the following year. It's a valid complaint, but using the same logic the set deserves five stars because Phil Collins doesn't sing on it.

It's true the full nine-piece band resembles a work-in-progress, with tablas and electric sitar adding subtle ethnic undercurrents to the music. But the longer jams ('Black Satin', or the 28-minute 'Ife') often attain a lofty hypnotic plateau, thanks to the driving momentum of the Foster/Henderson rhythm section, with help from Mtume and his battery of African percussion. Of course the original LP had no information whatsoever about the band or the music. The untitled side-long medleys on each disc were identified only as 'Foot Fooler' and 'Slickaphonics', and illustrated in the sleeve art with amusing inner-city caricatures.

It was all part of the usual Miles Davis 'call it anything' ethos: an attempt to focus attention on the music, and nothing but the music. But that deliberate anonymity may have actually undermined the album's impact, and the somewhat two-dimensional production didn't help (a more dynamic live sound would have made it a near-essential experience). But even on its own somewhat compromised terms it's still a valuable addition to any electric Miles library.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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