It was 1969, the tail end of what many consider to be the Golden Era of Jazz. The Bebop days of Minton’s and The Three Deuces were things of the past, cats like Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry were experimenting with what was called “avant-garde” or  “the new thing,” and Rock and Funk were taking over. Clive Davis, the President of Columbia Records (the label Miles was signed to), wanted to grab the attention of the younger market and increase record sales. Miles Davis had to move on or reinvent himself.  “I wasn’t prepared to be a memory yet, I wasn’t prepared to be listed on Columbia’s so-called ‘classical’ list.”


In August of that year, Miles recorded Bitches Brew. As in Kind of Blue, Miles did not bring charts or sheet music to the recording session; he brought in musical sketches of where he wanted the music to go. The music became something of a living composition, a constantly growing and evolving organism that thrived off of spontaneity and improvisation.

Right after the recording sessions, Miles opened for Laura Nyro at the Fillmore East in New York, a far cry from the smoky old Jazz clubs he played before. This was a totally different beast, a place “packed with these real spacy, high white people.” This wasn’t the Miles Davis of the Bebop days. It wasn’t even the Miles of E.S.P. or Nefertiti. This was a brand new Miles, a Miles of a new generation and of a new sound. “The sound of Miles at the Fillmore,” says Carlos Santana, “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 recording of Miles Davis’s four-night residency at the Fillmore East, abridged into the LP Miles Davis at the Fillmore, hit record stores a year later. Miles explained in a 1970 interview that he wanted “every note” of that performance released to the public. On March 25th, forty-four years later, Miles’s words will come to fruition with the release of Columbia/Legacy’s four disc box set of the performance Fillmore- Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.

Now we can hear that moment come alive again, finding a window into the recording studio, the sound, and the artist as he remade himself. Maybe we can even catch some of Miles’s urgency as he moved his sound into a new age.

“Uncle Miles hated the word Jazz. He called it Social Music!!!!!!…   No Boundaries….Band Members and His Fans– We all waited for His next move…  Fearless….“- Vince Wilburn Jr. (Nephew of Miles Davis)

Stream Unreleased Miles Davis ‘Spanish Key’ Encore

via Legacy Recordings 

Words by Zeb Stern 


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