In the weeks following the pivotal Carnegie Hall gig that produced Dark Magus, the Miles Davis octet headed out on a brief and sparsely documented tour culminating in a six-night run at Keystone Korner in San Francisco. While a recording of the band’s April 19th performance at Keystone is rumored to exist but does not currently circulate, this rough audience tape from an unknown night in the North Beach run provides a rare glimpse of a band in a transitional state with the recent addition of guitarist Dominique Gaumont.
Like the firmly in-the-red late 1972 shows that featured most of the musicians from the On the Corner era sessions, the music documented here has the feel of a band searching for new land amid its own cacophony. Still, Pete Cosey and Gaumont engage in an entertaining turf war as “Turnaroundphrase” reaches a fevered pitch to start the set, chasing Miles’ horn before trading jabs and tripped out solos while Michael Henderson holds the line and Miles clouds it all with atonal blasts from the Yamaha organ.
The tape’s poor fidelity robs us of some nuance as the set opener melts into and out “Tune in 5” but some truly wicked grooves develop as the band dials back the intensity beneath a pair of solos from Dave Liebman. It’s on quieter sections like these and the extended jam toward the back half of the “Turnaroundphrase” reprise where the band finds its center – locking in with remarkable precision and restraint relative to the hell unleashed at the start of the set. A few stop/starts drop the groove to a near hush as Miles rebuilds momentum and leads the octet into a menacing “Ife” that slowly takes shape beneath Mtume’s clattering drum machine and Liebman’s typically brilliant flute intro. The guitarists briefly trade fire while the tune builds then plateaus with a pair of solos from Miles and Liebman overtop the night’s deepest groove. Tape hiss overwhelms as Mtume’s percussion solo closes the set and the bandleader leaves the stage while a woman shouts “Miles play more … we came here for you“.
Get the tape
1. Turnaroundphrase (7:49)
2. Tune in 5 (5:50)
3. Turnaroundphrase (18:17)
4. Ife (18:08)
Miles Davis (trumpet, organ)
Dave Liebman (soprano, tenor, flute)
Pete Cosey (guitar, percussion)
Reggie Lucas (guitar)
Dominique Gaumont (guitar)
Michael Henderson (electric bass)
Al Foster (drums)
Mtume (conga, percussion)