Miles Davis’ historic four-night stand at promoter Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore East in New York City, June 17-20, 1970, is presented in its entire full-length unedited form for the first time as Miles At The Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.
At one of the most crucial moments in jazz and rock history, two months after the release of Miles’ groundbreaking double-LP Bitches Brew in April 1970, he was beginning to discover – and be discovered by – the burgeoning rock audience that came of age in the late 1960s. Bitches Brew was a turning point for jazz and rock. Bill Graham had a long history of presenting jazz artists at the Fillmores but it was Miles who carried rock audiences to a new plateau.
In October 1970, Columbia Records released the 2-LP set Miles Davis At Fillmore, which consisted of performances culled from the four nights of shows at the Fillmore East (where Miles opened for fellow Columbia artist Laura Nyro). At that time the shows were edited to fit the LP format. The full unedited shows are now presented for the first time yielding 100-plus minutes of previously unreleased music.
The three additional bonus tracks add another 35 minutes of music, released here for the first time, recorded in April 1970, at the Fillmore West in San Francisco (where Graham put Miles and band on a bill with the Grateful Dead and Stone The Crows). Miles At The Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 now contains 135 minutes of previously unreleased music.
The 32-page booklet that accompanies the box set provides a context for Miles’ musical transformations in the turbulence of the Fillmore rock epoch, as the psychedelic era of the late-1960s segued into the politically-charged intersection of the anti-war movement, Black Power, and the rise of funk. The illuminating 2,500-word chronologic essay was written by reissue producer Michael Cuscuna, who was a first-hand witness (as a disc jockey on New York’s influential WPLJ-FM) to Miles’ development at the time. The essay underscores the discovery of Miles by progressive underground FM radio and the late-’60s rock generation, at this crucial turn of his career.
In addition, an introductory Producers’ Note has been written by reissue producers Cuscuna and Richard Seidel. They provide a concise overview of Miles’ Fillmore period and the project itself, its correlation with the original Columbia double-LP, especially the additional 100 minutes of unreleased music from the shows, and 35 minutes of unreleased music on the bonus tracks.
The four-CD box set devotes one disc to each of the four nights that Miles and his group performed at the Fillmore East. As issued on the original Columbia double-LP in 1970 (Miles Davis At Fillmore, currently available on double-CD as C2K 65139) the music, whose original set lengths ranged from 46 minutes to nearly one hour, was edited by producer Teo Macero to accommodate a seamless sampling of music from each night on each of the four LP sides. Furthermore, no song titles were listed, and the LP sides were simply labeled “Wednesday Miles,” “Thursday Miles,” “Friday Miles,” and “Saturday Miles.” To paraphrase a review of the double-LP in Variety at the time, “the only label that can be placed on this program is that it’s Miles Davis music.”
In a rare, in-depth 1970 interview for rock magazine Zygote, it was reported that Miles, while listening to the concert playback, was “so excited about the music that he wanted every set, every note made available to the public…” Back in April, Rolling Stone critic Vince Aletti praised Miles’ [March] debut at the Fillmore East: “He came out looking and sounding tight and steely-hard, knees bent and horn raised, like a heavy spring under tension.”
Disc One (Fillmore East, Wednesday, June 17, 1970) – Selections: 1. Introduction • 2. Directions • 3. The Mask • 4. It’s About That Time • 5. Bitches Brew • 6. The Theme • Bonus tracks (Fillmore West, April 11, 1970): 7. Paraphernalia • 8. Footprints.
Disc Two (Fillmore East, Thursday, June 18, 1970) – Selections: 1. Directions • 2. The Mask • 3. It’s About That Time • 4. Bitches Brew • 5. The Theme • 6. Spanish Key (Encore) • 7. The Theme.
Disc Three (Fillmore East, Friday, June 19, 1970) – Selections: 1. Directions • 2. The Mask • 3. It’s About That Time • 4. I Fall In Love Too Easily • 5. Sanctuary • 6. Bitches Brew • 7. The Theme • Bonus track (Fillmore West, April 11, 1970): 8. Miles Runs The Voodoo Down.
Disc Four (Fillmore East, Saturday, June 20, 1970) – Selections: 1. Directions • 2. The Mask • 3. It’s About That Time • 4. I Fall In Love Too Easily • 5. Sanctuary • 6. Bitches Brew • 7. Willie Nelson • 8. The Theme.
All selections are previously unissued.
Note: All Fillmore East selections originally issued in drastically edited form on the double-LP, Miles Davis: At Fillmore (Columbia 30038, released October 28, 1970).