When you stumble across a description of Miles Davis, it’s usually something like this: “trumpeter, bandleader and composer,” quite possibly including “jazz legend” somewhere in there, too. The “bandleader” descriptor often gets buried by genre-specific terms, but Davis’ commanding yet flexible presence as a frontman is nearly unparalleled.
In 1971, Davis was playing with an all-star lineup featuring Gary Bartz on saxophone, Keith Jarrett on keys, Michael Henderson on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums and percussionist Airto Moreira. Each member of the cast contributed to what would later be remembered as one of the most interesting points in Davis’ career, when he was playing to larger crowds than ever (opening for the likes of The Band) and taking on a funkier sound. Rock ‘n’ roll may have been America’s choice in popular music at the time, but Davis and his crew could bring just as much intensity to the stage as Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin.
The group played a particularly intense show, featuring both new and old compositions, at the Filmore West in San Francisco on this day in 1971. Listen to the recordings, which begin about 10 minutes into the set, below.
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