2.21.1970 Ann Arbor

1970 wasn’t just a pivotal year in the Miles Davis electric timeline – it was a universe away from what the quintet was up to just 4 months prior. Three main factors contributed to the drastic change in tone: Dave Holland switched over to electric bass, Chick Corea began running the Fender Rhodes signal through both an Oberheim ring modulator and Echoplex tape delay, and Brazilian percussionist extraordinaire Airto Moreira joined the live lineup. The effect was stunning: a deeper, harder, more complex groove, and a sonic palette that would blow the minds of the headiest psychedelic warrior.

As if those changes weren’t significant enough to mark a clear change in direction, Miles added John McLaughlin on guitar for this February date at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival. Though the soundboard tape trims “Directions” from the start of the set and the mix is pretty out of whack (“Sanctuary”, “Bitches Brew” and “Masqualero” peak out severely, so watch your headphone volume), the performance is as incredible as you’d expect.

February 21, 1970
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8.19-21, 1969: Bitches Brew Sessions

Given the rapid evolution of the quintet across the first half of 1969, it’s no surprise that the band we hear on July 27th at Rutgers sounds remarkably different from the one featured on the next available tape, October 26th (upcoming). The change agent being, of course, the three-day sessions at Columbia Studio B on August 19, 20, and 21st that produced the Bitches Brew LP. 

Though the focus of this series is on Miles Davis’ live performances from 69-75, the impact of that session on his live output was so immediate and long-lasting that providing context feels necessary. It’s also just incredible to hear this album being created before our ears. 

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