Our second audience tape of 1969 is a brief snapshot from the Miles Davis Quintet’s May-June stretch at the Village Gate. But my god, what a show. Though session details list Jack DeJohnette on drums*, this is unquestionably Tony Williams behind the kit – making this a hybrid of Miles’ mid-60s combo (Shorter & Williams) and the “lost quintet” (Corea & Holland). And Williams is full-bore from the start, not necessarily overplaying but clearly pushing the rest of the band (even Miles) into supporting roles. Understandably so – the man was recording his own killer LP, Emergency!, around this same time.
To sweeten the pot, we get the first recording of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” – a ferocious run-through of the Bitches Brew standout. While its pacing is frantic, that unmistakable groove is already in place, with Williams is doing his best to approximate the multiple drummers that would produce the studio version later that summer. It’s the Tony Williams show, folks. Bask in its glory.
*Plosin lists May 23 and 24 as the possible dates from which this recording originates. DeJohnette was in the studio with Joe Henderson on May 23 to record his Power to the People LP – which may explain the presence of Williams here.