It’s not often that the opening act on a four-night run gets a massive four-disc box set out of the gig, but Miles Davis was no ordinary opening act. In June 1970, fresh off the release of his game-changing double album Bitches Brew, the trumpeter and his six-piece band were booked into Bill Graham’s Fillmore East in New York, where they opened for songwriter Laura Nyro. (She had a load of hits on the charts at the time; look her up, young’uns.)
Davis’ hot, surging sets were condensed into the double LP Miles Davis at the Fillmore, which came out later that year. Now Columbia/Legacy is set to release the entire unedited residency, with more than 100 minutes of previously unreleased music and bonus tracks from the group’s appearance at the San Francisco Fillmore that April. In a rare interview after hearing the Fillmore East recordings, Davis suggested he wanted “every note” of the sessions made available to listeners. More than 20 years after his death in 1991, he’s finally getting his wish.
“The sound of Miles at the Fillmore,” says major fan Carlos Santana in the extensive liner notes, “was the sound of the Black Panthers. It was the sound of Vietnam. . . You can hear that anger and darkness and the craziness of everything that was still in the air from the Sixties.” The promoter Graham, he says, helped create the rock & roll audience for Miles, which would eventually make him the only jazz great to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “He created that environment consciously and honestly and brutally, and got a new generation to hear the beauty in this music.” Miles at the Fillmore: Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 will be available March 25th, but you can hear the 10-minute-plus version of “Spanish Key” – from a rare encore at the Fillmore West – here and now.