5.1.1973 Santa Monica

Following a brief east-coast run that included stunning gigs in Greensboro and Washington D.C., the Miles Davis 10-piece returned to California for a stop at the UC Berkeley Jazz Fest and a pair of gigs in greater Los Angeles, the first of which was this performance at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium filmed for ABC’s In Concert television series.

It’s unclear if the band performed a full-length set but the 12-minute edit broadcast on May 23, 1973 is likely the source of this audiotape. And though the video hasn’t been seen in decades, a few choice photos from the date offer a rare glimpse of Miles performing while seated with his foot in a cast – a remnant of his car crash the previous fall.

Despite its short runtime, the tape is positively stacked with the heightened drama of a full set. “Turnaroundphrase” cuts in mid-flight as Miles states the theme then goes in hard with a commanding solo. Just as Liebman takes over and begins to peak, an abrupt tape edit drops us into “Zimbabwe” – its percussion-heavy intro slowly morphing into a bit of sinister, sludgy funk that also hangs around long enough to transition into “Tune in 5” mid-Liebman. Miles cues a few deftly executed stop/start sections to rapturous applause (possibly canned) before we fade out on an extended conga and tabla interlude.

The competition is fierce, but this might just be Miles’ headiest American television appearance.

Get the tape
1. Turnaroundphrase (5:17)
2. Zimbabwe (3:53)
3. Tune in 5 (2:59)

Lineup
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)