10.27.1971 Paris

The Miles Davis septet returned to the Théâtre Nationale Populaire in Paris for a two-set headlining performance just a few days after its initial appearance as part of the Newport Jazz Festival in Europe package tour. While the first Paris gig was a sprawling, unruly behemoth of a set (at 114 minutes it was the longest recorded show of Miles’ career), the performances on the 27th each clocked in at 90 minutes and boasted identical setlists – a rare display of uniformity from Miles though one he clearly enjoyed, as the band performed the same setlist for the next eight straight nights.

Like the previous Paris show, both sets on the 27th were reportedly filmed for television, which is likely the source of this somewhat lo-fi audio document. Unfortunately, the accompanying film footage has remained in the archives of Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française since its initial broadcast.

First Set

Having found its footing at the previous night’s performance in Brussels the septet sounds intent on repeating the formula (and the setlist) here in the evening’s early set, though there’s a feeling of restraint that’s typical of an early show. That caution could also just be the sound of the band acclimating itself to a less-than-ideal sound system – “Directions” is marred by some gnarly feedback within its first few minutes, and bass and drums dominate the mix across both sets. Still, “Honky Tonk” is an early highlight among many, falling into a supremely funky, downright pop groove about halfway through. The sprawling mid-set simmer of “Sanctuary” > “It’s About That Time” > “Yesternow” continues to evolve nicely as the band grows more comfortable slipping into a languid pace – Miles certainly enjoys the spaciousness, blowing some gloriously weird solos at the start of “It’s About That Time” and later during a curiously subdued “Funky Tonk”.

1. Directions (15:53)
2. Honky Tonk (14:46)
3. What I Say (9.24)
4. Sanctuary (:33)
5. Sanctuary (continued) (3:56)
6. It’s About That Time (16:26)
7. Yesternow (7:07)
8. Funky Tonk (19:24)
9. Sanctuary (closing theme) (1:45)

Second Set

One can only guess what the band was up to between sets, but the evening’s second performance was an especially heady counterpoint to the relative rigidity of the matinee show. Keith Jarrett is impressive throughout, laying down an otherworldly combo of Rhodes and organ during “Honky Tonk” and near single-handedly keeping this ultra-loose set from jumping the tracks. Listen as he remains unfazed by Michael Henderson’s antics during “What I Say” – plowing through at a manic tempo, dropping the groove, then inexplicably modulating the bass riff. A superb percussion solo mercifully ends the tune.

The band falls into a beautiful “Sanctuary” to cue up the set’s second act, revealing an ultra loose “It’s About That Time,” a spare “Yesternow” punctuated with some wonderful, haunting organ clusters from Jarrett, and a practically narcotic “Funky Tonk” that could stretch forever. The reprise of “Sanctuary” to close the set has the effect of being pulled from a dream. A breakthrough performance for this lineup.

Get the tape (both sets) / Lossless
1. Directions (11:47)
2. Honky Tonk (10:58)
3. What I Say (13:41)
4. Sanctuary (3:57)
5. It’s About That Time (12:01)
6. Yesternow (15:53)
7. Funky Tonk (20:01)
8. Sanctuary (closing theme) (1:34)

Lineup
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Gary Bartz (soprano sax, alto, sax)
Keith Jarrett (Fender Rhodes piano, Fender Contempo organ)
Michael Henderson (electric bass)
Ndugu Leon Chancler (drums)
Charles Don Alias (conga, percussion)
James Mtume Forman (conga, percussion)