The Miles Davis octet spent its final weeks of 1974 on an unglamorous string of dates across the northeastern U.S., ping-ponging between multi-night stands in New York City, DC, Cleveland, and East Lansing. A remarkably anti-climactic way to cap a year that reached such remarkable heights as the Carnegie Hall show that produced Dark Magus and a triumphant tour of Brazil, but a stark reminder that this was a group of working musicians through and through.
The tour also offered an opportunity for the band to road test a fresh batch of material it had recorded over several sessions in the latter half of the year, much of which provides evidence of Miles slowly emerging from purely groove-based songwriting. With tunes like “Maiysha” and “Mtume” oscillating between loose, heavy funk vamps and clearly defined sections anchored by some of Miles’ most beautiful melodies in years, this new material is probably as close as we’ll get to anything resembling a traditional verse/chorus structure throughout the electric period.
A key element to this new direction was nuance, and despite Dominique Gaumont’s mastery of heavy, heady psych, delicacy was not a characteristic the young guitarist often displayed in 1974. Miles would sack him by the end of the year, making this audience recording from November 18 Gaumont’s last circulating tape as a member of the working group.Continue reading “11.18.1974 Bottom Line”