Miles Davis – Tokyo 1973 Re-Broadcast [No label]
DVD – Intro / Turnaroundphrase / Tune In 5 / Right Off / Funk [ Prelude Pt. 1 ] / Tune In 5 / Untitled / Agharta Prelude / Zimbabwe / Tune In 5 / Outro – Shinjuku Kohseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, Japan. 20th June 1973 (64:00)
CD 1 – First Set – Applause / Turnaroundphrase / Tune In 5 / Right Off / Funk [ Prelude Pt. 1 ] / Tune In 5 (44:52)
CD 2 – Applause / Ife / Agharta Prelude / Zimbabwe – Shinjuku Kohseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, Japan. 19th June 1973 (45:34)
By 1973 Jazz, like Rock, had turned dark. Various political and sociological climates had forced the hand of the musicians in to making their points against ‘the man’ but also for forces and directions their music was being pulled in to, both bordering each others sides and crossing over between ideas
Miles Davis had already taken on board elements from the world of rock beginning in 1967 with his “Miles In The Sky” album. The follow up, “Filles De Kilaminjaro”, quoted Jimi Hendrix phrases within the music and would begin the transition in to his fusion era. While Miles was listening to more rock, the rock glitterati were also taking ideas from jazz. Eric Clapton for one was channeling it for his improvisations.
By 1973 Davis had made many changes to his live sets – Like Dylan he was the first musician of his genre who had gone electric, hardly as ground breaking as Dylan doing it but certainly as epochal as his peers would have seen happen. The sets also segued song in to song in to song, not a moment was wasted by tuning, announcements or simply swigging water – the musicians were employed by Davis to think on their feet, improvise where they might see a link forming and they were going to work as hard as James Brown’s group.
Davis was also one of the biggest Jazz musicians on the festival and rock music venue circuit, waiving his usual fees so that he might play alongside some of the bigger rock bands of the day just justify his choice to play fusion and to spread his name amongst different audiences.
He had also been introduced to the works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, making Davis change his meter once again by stepping back from his front man role and engaging with the band more as a one piece set and forcing Miles to make his recordings circular – a trick that he would use out to give the songs an even flow and that would merge them all together.
With the album “On The Corner” these essences were dashed with a liberal dose of funk as Miles was aiming to hit the hearts of the disenfranchised African-American market and bring their heads back to Jazz.
The album tanked on release and was derided by critics. Even Dave Leibman – saxophonist on the album – was disinterested but, as with most albums from famous names that score poorly on first release, the album became respected within the rap fraternity for it’s use of break beat drumming and repetitive riffing found a home as a perfect background to their linguistic endevours.
The flavour was all in the practice though as, when played live, the songs took a stronger, livelier tone, a little freer than the cut ups and over dubs that the studio version featured the concerts were a lot swampier, cluttered than the norm. Traditionalists looking for the linear space of performance would have difficulty picking out just one piece at a time.
This short tour of Japan – spanning 4 dates between the 19th – 30th June 1973 – had it’s first two nights in Tokyo captured both by radio and TV.
The 2 sets on the 19th were captured for FM radio and traded in bootleg circles after Miles Davis had passed away, most notably on the release “Unreachable Station”. After a little subtle remastering this version is purported to be the best version that has circulated. Each set is given it’s own disk (The 90 minute CD mastering hasn’t travelled as far as the East it might seem)
It certainly sounds it too. Being pre-FM it has a higher temperance for the stereo vision and sounds wider and brighter for it. It’s a fantastic show too, Miles was always ambivalent to the crowd, playing as he would regardless of their presence or not and the openness of his playing drives the band to play their hardest to keep up.
The video was rebroadcast in October 2011 on the NHK channel with an introduction by two Japanese presenters from the channel. The pro-shot video is in 16:9 aspect ratio with a vividly clear stereo sound but because of it’s age, has a slightly fuzzy quality about it. It’s a very good watch though as these things go – the camera essentially stays on Miles but his presence is so charismatic, you find yourself watching just to see what he might do next rather than listening for the next note.
The video ends on the outro but the taper paused the picture for 5 minutes at the end leaving silence and a portrait of Miles on stage. A great screensaver but nothing that you might want to watch for fun.
As the set stands it’s a great companion to the official “On The Corner” live set and sounds just as good as any of the official “Bootleg Series” releases so far. Essential for the Jazz collector.