Two days removed from a remarkable TV broadcast from Stockholm, Miles returned to the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen for his final concert from the stage on which he’d performed many times since his 1960 tour with his first great quintet. While his 1969 gig with the Lost Quintet was documented in stunning full color and a superb radio broadcast captured his short-lived 1971 band in all its Drunken Master glory, neither performance really showcased either electric ensemble in full flight. As luck would have it, this rough and somewhat rare audience recording from October of ’73 tops them all.
Tivoli Concert Hall in 2018.
With limited historical info available on the tour’s logistics, it’s unknown why the band would perform two sets on certain stops and a single set on others, but the audience here in Copenhagen was treated to the best of both – a hulking, 90-minute slab of music with the full drama and focused intensity of a single, unbroken set. Remarkably, though the document’s awash in reverb, the mix is a great one, with every instrument identifiable and Reggie Lucas’ constant wah clear as a bell. A brief snipped of chatter from our taper sets the scene before “Turnaroundphrase” explodes out of the speakers and Miles begins an extraordinary (and extraordinarily long) solo. A few impeccable stop/starts prove the band is both technically and energetically down for the fight, while the intensity remains damn near overwhelming until a cooldown mid-“Tune in 5” brings some relief.
An assault of tape splices and digital glitches interrupts the simmering groove that stretches across the first half of “Ife”, chopping brilliant solos from Liebman (on flute), Miles and Pete Cosey into music concrète. (I’ll re-post improved audio if I’m fortunate enough to find it). Eventually smoothing out and settling into a luxurious pace, “Ife” sprawls without meandering before reaching a logical conclusion and pivoting into “Untitled Original 730424c” with the precision of a studio edit. In an shockingly stacked set, “Calypso Frelimo” holds all the gold here, with Miles filling the air with beautiful atmospherics on organ before playfully sparring with Liebman on flute. Chaos builds towards the tune’s back half, but never spirals out of control before stumbling into an astonishing groove around 19 minutes in that’s pure Can and unlike anything we’ve heard from a Miles electric lineup.
Given the majority of Miles’ concerts in Copenhagen were recorded by Danish state media, it’s hard to imagine a more pro document of this show isn’t languishing in the vault. If that’s the case, it’s time to open the gates – this is a peak electric period performance.
Get the tape
1. Band warming up/chatter (:43)
2. Turnaroundphrase (17:34)
3. Tune in 5 (12:51)
4. Ife (21:50) [glitchy intro clears up around 12:00]
5. Untitled Original 730424c (12:32)
6. Calypso Frelimo (23:21)
Miles Davis (trumpet, organ)
Dave Liebman (soprano, tenor, flute)
Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
Michael Henderson (electric bass)
Al Foster (drums)
Mtume (conga, percussion)