Miles Davis

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970

In the early 1970s, the fusion of jazz and rock was often an amorphous and confounding experience, but to the active listener it was both challenging and rewarding. During his chameleon-like 40-year career, jazz legend Miles Davis led a revolution as he morphed from the smooth and melodic “cool” phase into the often dangerous and risky free-form improvisational style. His metamorphosis was fueled as much by the social and cultural events of the era as his own musical muse. Davis began to explore new territory, with an underlying funky drive and harsh electric accoutrements. The results were shocking.

Over six CDs, The Cellar Door Sessions captures Davis and his band during a four-night stint in December 1970. Parts of the performances were originally released (in heavily edited form) as Live-Evil, and this grand reissue not only fills in many of the puzzling gaps of that release, but also allows the listener to experience the extended interplay between Davis and the band at a molecular level. Over the course of the gigs, the band only performed seven identifiable tracks and a few unnamed improvisations. It is the wild variations across tracks, however, that are so captivating. Joined by Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Airto, Gary Bartz and Michael Henderson, each moment stood freely and was limited only by the players’ imagination and ability. While such a condensed and encapsulated recording may not provide a broad showcase for the average listener, for the die-hard Davis fan, this is heaven.