11.12.1971 Cologne

Following a monster of a gig in Oslo, the Miles Davis septet enjoyed a well-deserved two-night break before beginning its final stretch of the 1971 Newport Festival in Europe tour. Well, all except for Keith Jarrett, who spent the evening of November 10th recording his first solo LP, Facing You for Manfred Eicher’s fledgling ECM label.

This radio broadcast catches the band at the Sartory Festsaal in Cologne as the septet begins a five-night run of shows to close out the tour. And like the previous gig in Oslo, the band sounds amazingly enough as though they’re gaining steam as the tour reaches its final stage; Jarrett’s positively cruising, maybe even a little high on his own supply, Michael Henderson’s achieved a remarkable zen-like synthesis of groove and repetition, and Miles continues to explore new methods of sculpting his tone into shapes far beyond the trumpet itself. For all the physical ailments that nagged him in the latter half of 1971, the bandleader shows no intent on letting them impede his creative trajectory.

In what’s been a rare move for Miles’ working groups, the septet is on its tenth straight (and final) iteration of the same setlist here in Cologne. It’s a song order the band has honed to a fine polish, ebbing and flowing with the drama and continuity of an album (or double album given its average run time of around 80 minutes). The recording has been trimmed to just 55 minutes for radio broadcast, reducing “What I Say” to its ultra-funky intro jam, and editing “It’s About That Time” down to its quiet, freaky outro. Still, it’s easy to fall under the spell of this impeccably structured suite.

Miles is a commanding force throughout the set, relying heavily but expertly on the wah pedal to recreate synth-like LFO modulation – even the broadcaster mistakenly credits him with the Minimoog during the mid-set voiceover! As in the Oslo performance, it’s a treat to hear him inject “Honky Tonk” with some renewed vigor, throwing down impressively wild leads as the tune builds momentum. “Yesternow” > “Funky Tonk” are a mind-blowing yin and yang to close the set, the former treated with a herculean dose of restraint and nuance, the latter injected with a groove that’s both supremely funky and looser than most any version you’ll hear. Jarrett, clearly riding a wave of euphoria from his solo session, takes up nearly half the length of “Funky Tonk” with one of his longest, and most sublime intros of the tour. This show’s got swagger for days.

Get the tape
1. Introduction / Directions (11:38)
2. Honky Tonk (10:11)
3. What I Say (incomplete / intro only) (4:26)
4. It’s About That Time / Broadcast voiceover (incomplete / outro only) (3:24)
5. Yesternow (11:48)
6. Funky Tonk > Sanctuary (closing theme) (16:16)

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)