4.5.1973 Seattle

Miles Davis demanded three things of Pete Cosey when the guitarist joined his band in the spring of 1973:

The first was to move upfront, because the first day went to play with him I set my table up at the back near the rhythm section. He said “No, no – I want you up front.” The other thing was that he asked me to turn up [the volume]. I was always used to blending and having a balance. I didn’t know what he expected in terms of going over the top with the sound. So when he asked me to turn up [the volume], that’s all he had to say it one time! From then on I was in the t-zone [in your face]. One time, one of the guys said “Congratulations man, I’ve never heard music that loud. You actually made my teeth jangle!” And the third thing he said was: “Sit there and look black!”

Pete Cosey interview from “The Last Miles”

This brief audience tape from Seattle’s Paramount Theater captures a slice of Cosey’s debut as a member of Miles’ working band – a crucial document if there ever was one. Following a pair of shows in Vancouver and Portland, Miles added the guitarist to a lineup that now included a pre-Cosmic Echoes Lonnie Liston Smith on organ; a short-lived ten-piece band that was the trumpeter’s largest working group since his early Birdland dates with Charlie Parker. Despite its size, the band was remarkably nimble – allowing the music to breathe and evolve with ease as the front line overlaid solos that flowed into and out of one another along an unbroken thread. Just masterful stuff from a criminally under-documented live ensemble.

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1.12 + 1.13.1973 Village East

Miles Davis reached both a personal and critical nadir in the fall of 1972. Returning to New York following a brief but thrilling tour with a revamped nine-piece ensemble, he totaled his Lamborghini Muira and broke both legs in a gruesome, cocaine-strewn accident on the West Side Highway. The same week, his On the Corner LP was released to near revulsion from the music press. Yet, in the throes of his most fertile creative period since the spring of 1970, Miles refused to end the year a broken man – his studio sessions continued unabated from November into the following spring, often with the bandleader hobbled on crutches.

Miles would also make several changes to his live ensemble across the first half of 1973, including swapping out saxophonists, adding guitarists, ditching the tabla and sitar, and hiring and firing keyboardists until taking over organ duties himself. This two-night stand at the Village East Theater (formerly Bill Graham’s Fillmore East) captures the 1973 band in the first stage of its evolution, with Dave Liebman on flute and saxophone in place of Carlos Garnett. Captured on grainy film and a passable audience tape, the sets feature a mustached Miles in incredible form, miraculously unencumbered by crutches or cast, and engaging with an intensity he hadn’t shown in years.

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