Following a trio of excellent shows in Uppsala, Berlin, and Vienna, the Miles Davis septet rolled into the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen for its fourth concert in as many days. Like many stops on the 1971 Newport Festival in Europe tour, it was a venue Miles knew well, having performed there in 1969 with his Lost Quintet, in 1967 with his second great quintet (as featured on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1), and alongside John Coltrane in 1960 (included on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6). Miles would return a final time in 1973 with, of course, a radically different lineup and agenda.
The complete concert was recorded for Danish radio and television, and though only the final 18 minutes of footage are in circulation, it captures some fantastic interaction between band members. Mtume’s deft handiwork on the congas. Michael Henderson’s look of disbelief during Keith Jarrett’s “Funky Tonk” solo. Miles in the shadows off-stage, waiting for a groove to develop. Great stuff.
The performance itself is an odd one, especially after the band appeared to reach cruising altitude across the previous three nights. Here in Copenhagen, the septet seems hell bent on avoiding an extended groove throughout the set, relying instead on waves of rhythmic vamps that never quite materialize or fall into place. It’s a slurred performance, but not sloppy, in fact, the transitions are some of the most solid of the whole tour. If nothing else, it’s fascinating to hear the band breaking out and assuming a new form, even if there’s a slight Drunken Master energy to it all.
And while Henderson and Jarrett have a particularly impressive night – clearly enjoying themselves in the accompanying film footage – Miles is visibly off his game throughout, looking almost dejected as he wraps his solos. To his credit, the rhythm section constantly teeters on the brink of mayhem, reaching a climax on “It’s About That Time” with an ever-shifting collage of grooves that offers neither Miles nor Bartz with much of a launchpad. Still, there’s beauty. The calming mid-set “Sanctuary” is among the most rewarding of the tour, the way Jarrett and Henderson lock into the groove on “Funky Tonk” is superhuman, and “Yesternow” continues to peel away layers to reveal the seed of On the Corner that lurks beneath. There’s gold here if you can dig it.
Get the tape
1. Directions (13:50)
2. Honky Tonk (10:35)
3. What I Say (14:24)
4. Sanctuary (3:50)
5. It’s About That Time (13:40)
6. Yesternow (13:25)
7. Funky Tonk > Sanctuary (closing theme) (18:24)
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)