From the site of his 1949 love affair with Juliette Gréco to his legendary soundtrack session for Louis Malle’s “Elevator to the Gallows”, a fractious date with Coltrane in the Spring of ’61 and into a killer string of electric dates, Paris provided Miles with a well of inspiration rivaled only by New York City. Despite a mountain of technical challenges that plagued him throughout, this July performance at the Olympia is an absolute monster, all thanks to a working group that’s in peak form from end to end.
The show’s also a rare one in that it features no keyboard – though we can hear the Yamaha organ briefly sputter to life toward the end of the set, the instrument seems to fall victim to the same ghosts that sideline Mtume’s beatbox and often send Miles’ trumpet spiraling into an ocean of feedback. A battle of man vs. machine that makes for a thriller of a tape.
As “Turnaroundphrase” takes off, Miles’ phrasing is remarkably guitar-like out of the gate – jabbing and riffing in unison with Liebman, the pair are clearly on the trail of something good until Miles’ wah pedal goes rogue and punctuates his opening solo with brief patches of silence. The rhythm section remains locked in as Miles presses on, building in intensity as Cosey’s solo sends it tumbling into “Tune in 5” with incredible precision, briefly bookending the proceedings with solos awash in a howl of feedback – you can imagine the bandleader was furious at the technical challenges that largely sidelined him while such ferocious jams unspooled in his absense.
Impeccable stop/starts throughout “Zimbabwe” and “Untitled Original 730424c” reveal mini universes between the breaks and a band with massive ears. Though session notes suggest this was a two-set affair, the seamless percussion segue from “Untitled” into “Ife” suggest otherwise. The absense of organ and drum machine make this more of a skeletal “Ife” but no less haunting as Mtume and Cosey fill every crook with percussion and plucks of autoharp. Miles returns in fits and starts until settling into a quiet wah’d solo with Cosey underfoot, slowly building as Liebman joins on flute then climaxing with some superb guitar interplay – a criminally infrequent highlight. The band jumps to “Tune in 5” on a dime, on the brink of chaos between stop/starts before dissolving into another heady percussion duet from Mtume and Cosey as Miles draws an early curtain on a truly maniac set.
Get the tape / Lossless
1. Turnaroundphrase (14:19)
2. Tune in 5 (10:41)
3. Zimbabwe (11:29)
4. Untitled Original 730424c (11:40)
5. Ife (16:47)
6. Tune in 5 (6:08)
Note: The tape groups the complete performance into three medleys:
1. Turnaroundphrase > Tune in 5 > Zimbabwe (part 1) (31:08)
2. Zimbabwe (part 2) > Untitled Original 730424c (17:03)
3. Ife > Tune in 5 (23:13)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Dave Liebman (soprano, tenor, flute)
Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
Michael Henderson (electric bass)
Al Foster (drums)
Mtume (conga, percussion)