Miles Davis, ‘Lost Quintet On Green Dolphin Street’ (So What! / Voodoo Down VDD 2021-010)
Disk 1 (Concert One); On Green Dolphin Street / So What / Nefertiti / Footprints / No Blues – The Theme (42:55)
Disk 2 (Concert Two); This (Gingerbread Boy) / Paraphernalia / No Blues – The Theme (40:26)
Recorded at Duffy’s Backstage, Rochester, NY, March 11 – 17, 1969.
The Miles Davis quintet’s appearance at Duffy’s Backstage in Winter ‘69 seems to be a dated mystery – We can be sure they played, however, documentation doesn’t seem to agree about it’s dates – The Plosin website suggests that the dates that the band performed on were the 25th of Feb and the 3rd of March, suggesting that the Quintet were actually playing at the Cellar Door, Washington in the middle of March, the So What? label suggest that the dates were later in the month between the 11th to the 17th.
Regardless, 53 years later after the fact, here we have two sets that the band played from the best source.
The show was one of the first to be performed that sat between the recording sessions for ‘In A Silent Way’ and the release of this best selling album. Another movement for Miles who had been shifting his sensibilities from the now standardised forms of American jazz to a style that sucked up it’s influences from seemingly everywhere – Rock, the avant-garde, jazz and pop ground together to meld this beast of an accumulation.
The sets are sandwich stacked beginning with – For the first set, tracks from ‘Kind Of Blue’ moving on to material from the onset of Miles’ more eclectic style before moving back to earlier material but all performed in the way that suggested a sea-change for the quintet as Miles leads them through a surge of quickly shifting creativity. The second set starts with a more modal, bop sound before launching some of the Quintet’s older material – there’s a definite turn around as a more trad sound settles back in to the format while twisting with some of the elements that would be brought about in the change.
The covers suggest this is a soundboard recording, the internet suggests this is an audience recording – Who’s right? Oddly enough, it’s difficult to tell – The recording is a beautiful wide stereo from which the ears can hear each instrument perfectly, it’s close enough sounding to have been plugged in to the board, however, if we consider that the acoustics at Duffy’s were so that if were possible to set up a recording from a basic set up – and in the knowledge that this is obviously a jazz venue as opposed to a rock hall – On the first set, the sound of the tape is muffled enough to cover up some treble in the air, close enough to give the feel of an AM radio recording, the second set is not quite as clear. You can hear the quiet flutter of an audience applause between tracks but that’s not quite loud enough to really give any clues either. Hesitantly, I would honestly suggest a broadcast sound, erring on a soundboard recording, though I wouldn’t discount it being an excellent, if not crystal board recording.
Another great release by the So What! / Voodoo Down collaboration. It’s not the cleanest recording that you’ll hear, as we’ve read, it’s a fine line between very good audience and good soundboard. As we edge along to the ‘In A Silent Way’ era, there’s the emergence of change happening right through your ears. For anyone who’s interested in this turnpoint in Miles’ career and how it would start to affect others careers, this is a good CD to have.