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After a star-making turn at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival (including an earth-shattering performance of Thelonious Monk’s ”’Round Midnight”) Miles Davis lit up the jazz world in the late ‘50s with a series of historic releases, including Round About Midnight, Miles Ahead, Birth of the Cool and, in 1959, Kind of Blue (now the top-selling jazz album of all time). As Davis wandered through the 1960s and into the ‘70s, he expanded his scope into jazz-rock fusion, the avant garde and, eventually, electric experimentalism. The second Miles Davis Quintet, featuring saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams (and later Cannonball Adderley), recorded such influential albums as Sorcerer in 1967 and Nefertiti in 1968. This electric period was transformative and incredibly influential not only to jazz musicians, but to early rock ‘n’ rollers. At the time of this performance on March 7, 1970, Davis found himself sharing a bill at the Fillmore in New York alongside the Steve Miller Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Davis would release Bitches Brew just weeks after this show, and it would become an early pinnacle of fusion and experimentalism, leaving a mark on rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Davis now faced the challenge of presenting his self-made and genre-defying jazz to a rock audience, and this recording marks one of his very first attempts to do so. Listen to the Miles Davis Quintet floor the Fillmore crowd with searing renditions of “Bitches Brew” and “Spanish Key.”
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