The Miles Davis sextet spent much of November 1970 playing university fieldhouses, college gymnasiums, and other venues unknown throughout the northeastern US. This stop at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory produced one of only two tapes of the band during this stretch, as well as the only known footage documenting the “Cellar Door” lineup of Jarrett/Bartz/Henderson/DeJohnette/Airto. While the B&W video is curiously edited to resequence the set, it includes nearly the entire performance (20 more minutes of music than the circulating audiotape!).
Though the band is just a month removed from its run at the Fillmore West in mid-October, the rate of growth evident in this performance is remarkable, with the core of Henderson/Jarrett/DeJohnette having reached cruising altitude and oozing confidence. And while the intensity seems to put Bartz on his heels throughout the performance, Miles clearly relishes the fight – blowing with endless creativity and power from start to finish.
“Directions” takes some wild turns out of the gate with Airto on flute and Miles taking liberty with the opening theme before cutting off Bartz’ solo as he’s building steam. Both the audio and video are incomplete, so we’re left to guess how the remainder of that drama played out. “Honky Tonk” and “What I Say” have evolved into a +30-minute behemoth resplendent with a dual-keyboard masterclass from Jarrett on both tunes (beginning at 28:15 and 56:01 above – “What I Say” is split on the video).
“It’s About That Time” is recognizable only from Miles’ cue-in, now absent of its trademark bassline and most defining elements – however, the Lost Quintet never played it the same way twice, so maybe this version is relatively textbook. The “Funky Tonk” finale remains the stone killer of the set, devolving into pure chaos during Bartz’ fierce solo before returning to the groove just long enough for Miles to close it out strong and lead the band into “The Theme”, here in its final recorded performance after more than a decade of service.
Get the tape
1. Applause/warm up (:11)
2. Directions (9:54) (incomplete)
3. Honky Tonk (19:58)
4. What I Say (13:10) (incomplete)
5. Sanctuary (2:55)
6. It’s About That Time (4:59) (incomplete)
7. Funky Tonk (11:56) (incomplete)
8. The Theme (1:10)