Following a sweep across the northwestern US in early April, Miles returned to the east coast with new guitarist Pete Cosey in tow for a pair of mid-month live dates and a quick, still unreleased April 24 session at Columbia’s Studio B. This April 12 audience recording from Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNC-Greensboro is the longest tape of 1973 thus far, capturing a healthy portion of both sets and featuring the recorded debut of both “Turnaroundphrase” and “Tune in 5”. It also provides the first clear evidence of the band’s more experimental set structure, with both “Tune in 5” and “Black Satin” reprised throughout the performance – a practice Miles would use to great effect into 1975.
The tape itself is a rough one, with plenty of digital artifacts throughout the first 12 minutes, dropouts here and there, and some unfortunate splices at moments of high drama. Still, this short-lived ten-piece band is one of the more thrilling lineups of Miles’ electric period, so let your ears settle in and be rewarded.
“Turnaroundphrase” is nearly unrecognizable at the start of the set, absent of its trademark dramatic pauses and loping along at a languid groove compared to the breakneck pace it settled into toward the year’s end. Miles’ familiar melodic line drops in throughout, and Lonnie Liston Smith and Cosey get particularly wild around 9:45 – a theme the pair would return to across both sets. “Tune in 5” is barely more than an unaccompanied Cosey solo with Miles cueing the band in and out to heighten the drama before launching quickly into “Black Satin”, seeming intent on mashing both tunes into a solid whole. It’s a technique the band would perfect soon enough, and it’s fascinating to hear them explore this uncharted turf in real-time. Dave Liebman smoothes the seams with a maniac soprano solo as the band briefly segues back into “Tune in 5”, returns to “Black Satin”, then settles into a massive groove of pure noise and texture around 27:30 until a tape splice caps the set.
The tape picks up midway through “Right Off”, notably headier than usual as Smith and Cosey go cosmic over a groove that seems to deconstruct itself beneath Miles’ solo. “Ife” springs to life after a superb transition, but Cosey sends it stratospheric until the band settles in and Miles lays down a truly inspired solo and Henderson manipulates the groove underfoot. Easily the dark heart of the set.
A stop-on-a-dime turn sends the band into “Agharta Prelude” with a tightly synced theme from Miles and Liebman that suggests the tune had been in the rotation for a spell. Things get chaotic fast as a collective solo briefly spoils the tension. A quick shift into “Tune in 5” bears little fruit before Miles cues “Zimbabwe” and rights the ship with an unexpectedly beautiful solo. Smith gets transcendent on wah’d organ toward the tune’s back half – an ultra freaky yin to Cedric Lawson’s tape-saturating yang. A final return to “Tune in 5” breaks the spell before an ecstatic percussion solo caps the night with a rare audience clap-along. Wild times below the Mason-Dixon.
Get the tape
First set (single file)
1. Turnaroundphrase* (11:21)
2. Tune in 5* (5:46)
3. Black Satin (5:30)
4. Tune in 5 (1:17)
5. Black Satin [incomplete] (7:25)
Second set (single file)
1. Right Off (9:15)
2. Ife [w/splice] 11:15)
3. Agharta Prelude (4:42)
4. Tune in 5 (M. Davis) 1:20)
5. Zimbabwe (8:47)
6. Tune in 5 (6:24)
*First recorded performance
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Dave Liebman (soprano, tenor, flute)
Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
Khalil Balakrishna (electric sitar)
Lonnie Liston Smith (organ)
Michael Henderson (electric bass)
Al Foster (drums)
Mtume (conga, percussion)
Badal Roy (tabla)