Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East
You could probably make a case for any of the seven live albums Miles Davis released in the ‘70s, but the best is where it all began, at Fillmore. Recorded with six other musicians playing a range of instruments over four days in June 1970, this continued Davis’ outreach to a younger audience that had begun with Bitches Brew, released just two months before. As originally issued, Davis seemed to discourage overthinking this, not even providing a proper track list; the double album’s four sides are named simply, “Wednesday Miles,” “Thursday Miles,” “Friday Miles,” and “Saturday Miles.” But you can hear what’s here, and the 1997 CD reissue broke it down into specifics; he’s drawing from Bitches Brew and its essential predecessor In A Silent Way, with some then evolving new material (“Willie Nelson”) and a jazz standard (“I Fall in Love Too Easily”) thrown in.
One of the most interesting things about At Fillmore is how repetitive it is. “It’s About That Time” is explored at length on all four sides, while the main riff to “Bitches Brew” appears on three of four, serving as a theme. Surprisingly, this does not get old; the band assembled here is such a crack team of musicians that it never plays a song the same way twice—and Davis would not have had it any other way. The listener is never left on even footing, as the band shifts in and out of crisp beats and dazzling solos interspersed with deep riffs and at times just ghostly noise. If anyone mistook Bitches Brew as a fleeting grab for this hippie market, this made it clear Miles was not fucking around.