Miles Davis, ‘Evil In Electric Factory’ (Voodoo Down / So What! VDD 2022-016)
Disk 1: Band warming up / Directions / Honky Tonk / What I Say / Sanctuary (45:51)
Disk 2: It’s About That Time / Funky Tonk / The Theme – applause (37:18)
Live at Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA. November 15th, 1970.
According to Wikipedia, “The original Electric Factory was founded by Sheldon Kaplan, Herbert Spivak, and his brothers Jerry Spivak and Allen Spivak. They soon hired Larry Magid to book all of the shows. Kaplan sold his stake in the company after the Atlantic City Pop Festival and Magid stepped up to become a partner.”, one of the main, and possibly most famous of the music venues in Philly, the old tire warehouse took on many varied acts though their tenure at their first location, Larry later suggested that they “created the concert business”, such was the lure of their lucure and talent for spotting.
Miles Davis and his Sextet were touring ‘Bitches Brew’ late in to 1970, this is despite going back to the studio in January – May to record the tracks for the ‘Miles Ahead’ album too – the former having turned and burned so many heads, the band were still eager to get this groundbreaking double out to the audiences.
The sextet featured, alongside Miles, Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette and Aitto Moreira – One of the later appointments to the band and one of the guests who made the jazz-fusion sound the marker that it became.
This tape, originally circulating online, pressed on the Legendary Collection Series label c. 2017 has now been released on Voodoo Down via the So What! Label. Regarded as a soundboard, it’s almost a hybrid of pre-fm recording and a board tape – the quality fluctuates occasionally as there are several tiny drops in the sound, this is mixed with moments of static sound, however, beneath all of these, there’s an excellent board recording waiting for your ears. If you’ve been keeping track of the recordings spilling forward from this label in the recent past, you’ll know the form is familiarly different each time – the set lists differ from time to time, players come, players go but the main flux is Miles and his contention in throwing in wide curveballs each and every night – From wilfully wild and dizzying to almost stationarly atonal and dark – there are some thrilling moments here that are set to blow off your socks.
From mellow groove to voracious depth, there’s not a spare note wasted – Check out the sprawling, ‘Honky Tonk’ which features mutant turns aplenty, between crying groans to fixedly propulsive key-work, the sextet working as closely as they could to form a gees-bend pattern as colourful as a paint party and as thrilling as that first sip of whiskey on the lips.
‘It’s About That Time’, as cumbersome as a giraffe on skates, with a rhino’s heft wobbles precariously in to view and spirits all over the place – A case of Miles being in full control while judging the actions of the other players on stage – thrillingly like attempting to catch lightning but via six variable compounds and shaking up the jar while anticipating the best. The outcome is as jarringly uncompliant but fleetingly viscose as you might expect.
The set, as you know by now, is like offering someone a plate of flambéed alligator, it won’t be to everyone’s taste, sure, but to succeed, it’s worth persevering with to see just what it contains. At just over 82 minutes in length, the label have done the right thing by preserving the complete set on these two disks, but it also gives you the excuse to take a rest if almost an hour and a half of mainly improvised fusion is bound to take it’s toll.
Initial copies of the set come with a bonus DVD-R that features the set from a very grainy, black and white in-house pro-shot. The audio is LOUD as it has been synched from the CDs (the capabilities of my TV not as clear as my headphones so I didn’t hear the staticky wear that I heard from audio only. The visuals are presented in 4:3 ratio and, while woefully underrepresented on a modern set, are really quite cool to view – The focus starts with Miles but as he leaves the stage to disrobe, the camera moves from sextet member to member, picking up on whom-ever is performing the most at the time.
As stated, the audio replicates the CDs, when the video was initially pressed, it was out of order with the set, here it has been re-edited to fit the soundboard.
The covers for the set look awesome as usual – Mixed with ‘Bitches Brew’ imagery and stage shots, all in colour on the outside, B&W on the inside with full recording and band details along with the now standard obi-strip, this is a classy and neat package worth having.