While the quintet set off for Chicago, Cincinnati and LA shortly after the August 19-21 Bitches Brew session, the next circulating tape is this murky audience gem from late October in Milan – the first of an incredible, and incredibly well documented run of gigs from the Newport Jazz Festival European tour.
Notable within the first few minutes is that the quintet has drastically shifted its approach to both the new material and Miles’ standbys. Pacing and grooves have less urgency, spaciousness reigns, and freeform sections are like deconstructed versions of those intensely chaotic side treks the band enjoyed just months prior. The low fidelity of this tape could also heighten the effect, as it pushes the loudest instrument to the front of the mix and makes accompaniment barely audible at times.
Despite the first appearance of “Bitches Brew” – aired here in a loose arrangement that closely mirrors a sketch from the album sessions – the almost minimalist first set sounds as close to In a Silent Way than anything we’ve heard from the quintet in ‘69. It’s also fascinating to contrast the versions of “Bitches Brew” from each set to get a sense of just how embryonic this monster was at the time.
The second set, decidedly more playful than the first, features a brief appearance of Corea on a second drum kit during Spanish Key – an indulgence Miles allowed a few times before laying down the hammer later in the tour.
1. Bitches Brew 13:57
2. Directions 9:10
3. Miles Runs the Voodoo Down 15:20
4. Masqualero 12:36
5. I Fall in Love Too Easily 2:38
6. Sanctuary 3:33
7. The Theme 0:14
8. Bitches Brew 13:24
9. It’s About That Time 13:17
10. Nefertiti 9:36
11. ‘Round Midnight 9:35
12. I Fall in Love Too Easily 1:10
13. Masqualero 10:01
14. Sanctuary 0:08
15. Spanish Key 9:03 (Corea on drums during Shorter solo)
16. The Theme 0:18