11.13.1971 London

This audience tape is from one of two shows the Miles Davis septet performed at London’s Royal Festival Hall on the final leg of the 1971 Newport Festival in Europe tour. Though there’s no indication if this recording is from the matinee or late show, my money’s on it originating from the early performance given the band’s intensity level and freight train pacing at the start of the set.

Much like the document from Miles’ 1969 show at Hammersmith Odeon, the murky fidelity of the tape tends to mask some exceptional moments from this London performance, but they’re here if you’ve got ears. After ten straight run-throughs of the same setlist, Miles appears to tweak the song order on the fly as he cues the band into “What I Say” immediately following “Directions”. Nudugu sounds especially thrown off balance as he spirals into chaos during the segue while Miles, somewhat hilariously, solos atop the wreckage. Once the band kicks into the tune proper the pace is absolutely maniacal, reaching a climax with a Rhodes solo from Keith Jarrett that’s the aural equivalent of a tornado tearing across an open field.

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11.1.1969 Hammersmith Odeon, London

By the time the Newport Jazz Festival tour hit London, the quintet was on day 2 of a 7-day streak of gigs – each day featuring an afternoon and evening set. While at least one, and often both of the days’ sets of the tour were captured for radio broadcast, the only record of this show at the Hammersmith Odeon comes from a rough audience recording of the second set.

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