Miles Davis, ‘Invasion of John McLaughlin – Ann Abour 1970 – Definitive edition’ (Voodoo Down / So What! VDD2022 – 012)
It’s About That Time / I Fall In Love Too Easily / Sanctuary / Bitches Brew / Masqualero / The Theme (49:13)
Recorded live at Blues and Jazz Festival, Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, February 21st, 1970.
The ancient roman fort of Danum, latterly, Doncaster, were you to visit it these days, may not instantly make you think of virtuosic jazz guitarists, however, it was the birthplace of John McLaughlin, long heralded as one of the best and greatest guitarists in the world. His inclusion in to Miles Davis’ band came around very quickly – John, having travelled to the US to work with Tony Williams and his band, the self titled, “The Tony Williams Lifetime” on their debut album, “Emergency!”.
In a round about way, the album, which drew on Miles’ early style of fusion while also adding in a few newer, up-to-date styles, was supported by Jimi Hendrix whom McLaughlin had jammed with in the March of 1969. Miles, obviously aware of the fast rise of Hendrix, has sought out McLaughlin to join the Quartet on the sessions for his own new-fusion album, ‘In A Silent Way’ when John had only been in the States for around two weeks. Through that invitation, John was then asked to join Miles for the next five albums.
Tonights show was the sole time McLaughlin set foot on stage with Miles – the gig takes fusion to it’s zenith. Between apoplexy and fever, the band are outrageously rhythmic while simultaneously beating rhythm about the house, while grinning from ear to ear. A board recording, the sound is amazing – keeping a very live feel while sounding like the band are trying to do everything to crush the limiters on their path (If you’re listening on headphones, bear this in mind! I EQ’s a little, turning the treble down – Maybe a little too late. )
‘It’s About That Time’ fades in on the tape while the band have already pitched up towards the front of the stage, cues chalked, meals warmed, engines spun – They’re in full flow and the shock of the wall of wailing can be quite something. John McLaughlan is, subject to my intro, sometimes more of a footnote to the miasma here though his playing on Bitches Brew is much more than the smallest cog within the machine.
Urgent, wailing and substantial without being crass, it’s still easy to pick out the old style meshed in with the ultra new like a spin on an old recipe and yet, it’s amazing to hear just how far and beyond the band have progressed in the few months that separate the deathless end of the sixties to the promise that the ‘70’s was being begged to afford.
An amazing concert packed in to just short of 50 minutes long – For fans of ‘In A Silent Way’ to Sly And The Family Stone, Yoko Ono, Funkadelic, John Colrtane, Betty Davies, eg al or anyone who’s engaged with how jazz changed in the hands of one man’s band.