Though the exact recording date remains a mystery (it was likely filmed between July 19-22, 1970), this performance of “Directions” from the Dick Cavett show aired on July 22nd to what was surely a gobsmacked television audience. Until footage is released from the ABC Television archive, this low-fi recording is all that remains.
The choice of “Directions” > “The Theme” seems like a questionable one for live television, not just for the fact the unreleased “Directions” was unknown beyond the band’s live set (not surfacing until the titular 1981 outtakes compilation), but mainly because the tunes would appear to be bizarre stand-alone numbers when removed from the context of the live performance.
Behind a slightly hesitant intro and murky mix that buries DeJohnette’s drums and Holland’s wah’d electric bass, the band positively takes flight at around 4 minutes once the keyboards simmer into a groove and Miles restates the theme. The whole affair teeters on the edge of madness as Corea enters with a heavily ring modulated Rhodes melody at about 6:25, but Miles, possibly fearing he’d never perform on live television again if the band continues down this path, brings it back into focus with a brief solo and the quick statement of “The Theme” to wrap it up.
It’s wonderful to imagine such high weirdness being beamed into the homes of millions. Get the tape