7.25.1970 Madison Square Garden

On the heels of a mind-melting 8 minutes on the Dick Cavett Show, the Miles Davis septet rolled into Madison Square Garden billed as an “Extra Added Attraction” for headliners Blood, Sweat & Tears. As evidenced by this distant audience tape, the cavernous, likely partially-full boxing arena did the band no favor – even the Times review of the gig called the murky mix a show spoiler.

“…the group’s ensemble passages went rolling and echoing around the vast Garden, covering and re‐covering themselves until they were turned into sludge … Miles Davis and his sextet, who preceded Blood, Sweat and Tears, suffered even more from the amplifying system. Only Mr. Davis’s trumpet succeeded in penetrating the thrumming echos set up by his electrified musicians.”

Still, there are some marvelous moments to be heard in this tape. The trippy mid-song breakdown in “Directions” we heard on the Cavett show is again present here, and works incredibly well in the Garden’s echo chamber – particularly Jarret’s elongated chords on the combo organ paired with Corea’s self-modulating tape delay on the Rhodes. “Bitches Brew” is one of the shorter versions we’ve heard thus far, at just 8 minutes, and treated with some welcome delicacy to meet the room. The clear standout is “Paraphernalia”, given the full summer of ’70 treatment in its final recorded performance. Holland switches to upright bass, Corea intros with effected piano before he and Jarret lock in with jaw jopping intricacy, and both Miles and Grossman drop in with strong solos, surely loving the natural echo on their horns.

“It’s About That Time” and “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” are overwhelmingly bass heavy, though there’s clearly some interesting interplay happening underneath the murk of the latter. Audience chatter nearly spoils a fantastic but incomplete “Spanish Key” to close the set, which piles on more menace than most any version of the tune we’ve heard thus far. Given the high profile of BS&T and the septet around this time, it’s hard to believe a soundboard recording doesn’t exist, but until one emerges this is still a killer set if you can overlook the mess.

Get the audience tape
1. Introduction (0:19)
2. Directions (8:04)
3. Bitches Brew (8:06)
4. Paraphernalia (9:33)
5. Sanctuary (0:40)
6. It’s About That Time (2:26)
7. Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (7:13)
8. Spanish Key (8:36)