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MILES DAVIS - Pangaea cover
4.45 | 22 ratings | 2 reviews
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Live album · 1975

Filed under Fusion


A Zimbabwe Part I 20:25
B Zimbabwe Part II 21:13
C Gondwana Part I 23:23
D Gondwana Part II 23:57


-Miles Davis / trumpet & organ
-Sonny Fortune / soprano & alto saxophone, flute
-Michael Henderson / fender bass
-Pete Cosey / guitar, synthesizer, percussion
-Reggie Lucas / guitar
-Al Foster / drums
-Btume / congas, percussion, water drums & rhythm box

About this release

CBS/Sony ‎– SOPZ 96~97 (Japan)

Recorded live at Osaka Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan (evening set), February 1, 1975

Thanks to M.Neumann, snobb for the updates


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Mysterious mellow psychedelic avant-garde world music influenced jazz-rock at it's finest, 'Pangea' is the missing link between 'Meddle' era Pink Floyd, the quieter side of Sun Ra, the exotic lounge gypsy ragas of Gabor Szabo, today's 'down tempo' music for chill rooms and the more introspective jazz/folk side of Jimi Hendrix. This is beautiful one-of-a kind music that has to be heard, mere words cannot do it justice. Recorded on the same night as the 'Agharta' album, 'Pangea' has little of 'Agharta's' cosmic space funk, but all of that album's tense quiet moments and then some. Not all is peaceful here though, there are a few sections on 'Pangea' that recall the chaotic free-jazz proto punk of the previously released 'Dark Magus', but overall, that still ominous mood that only Miles can create dominates here.

The star of this show is the phenomenal Pete Cosey, probably one of the best jazz rock guitarists ever outside of John McLaughlin and Robert Fripp. Pete's playing is rooted in the psychedelic blues tradition of Hendrix, David Gilmour and Eddie Hazel, but Cosey has a much more practiced technical style that allows him to move far beyond anything that those three could ever do. Although many guitarists rely on riffs and scale runs, Cosey's ability to 'sing' on the guitar like a saxophonist brings to mind similar guitarists such as Terje Rypdal, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck.

This album is highly recommended for people who like mellow psychedelic rock with some world music and avant-garde electronic influences plus the occasional sonic free-for-all.
The era of electronic Miles Davis, from its humble late '60s origins (see: "In a Silent Way") through the Fusion breakthrough of his seminal 1970 Jazz-Rock masterpiece "Bitches Brew", and continuing into the apocalyptic street funk of "On The Corner", reached critical mass on stage in Japan in early 1975. This two-disc live set captures the evening performance of a twilight doubleheader, like its companion piece (the impossible to overrate "Agharta") recorded in Osaka on February 1 of that year.

Together both albums (both of them twin-discs) mark the apotheosis of an astonishing career that saw the erstwhile jazz trumpet player at the forefront of just about every new musical movement of the previous three decades.

"Pangaea" follows a trajectory similar to the afternoon gig, but with fascinating detours and altogether fresh results. Each of the two discs presents a single, unified improvisation, played with even more confidence and kinetic energy than on "Agharta" (Davis in particular sounds a lot stronger: maybe the pain medication finally kicked in). The music is sometimes less ferocious than it was during the afternoon set, but in the end presents an even richer experience: especially on Disc Two, when Miles truly Takes the Voodoo Down.

The evening show opens with "Zimbabwe": a no-hold barred, 42-minute Funk-Rock frontal assault more powerful in parts than even the malignant juggernaut of "Dark Magus", recorded in Carnegie Hall the previous year. After that the tone and tempo gradually shift downward into a more open and free-form (but no less rhythmic) jam on the nearly 47-minutes of Disc Two.

"Gondwana" (named for the prehistoric super-continent that would separate into Africa and South America) opens with a haunting tropical bass line and evocative solo flute (by Sonny Fortune). It's a welcome respite after all the heat and friction of "Zimbabwe" on Disc One, and eventually cools even further before resolving itself in an unexpected, swinging jam, recalling the pre-electronic roots of Davis' jazz past.

And there it ends, in a quietly devastating final curtain to both an epic day of music-making and a vanguard musical career. Davis would retreat into semi-retired seclusion soon after these gigs, and it's hard not to think that the sheer strain of creating such intense and beautiful noise finally pushed him off the public stage. Certainly his comeback in the 1980s introduced a more tame and tired Miles Davis than the ferocious beast heard prowling outside its cage on these recordings.

But this was Miles at his peak. And when standing on the summit of any mountain there's no other way to go except down.

Consumer postscript: word-of-mouth says the 1991 Columbia re-masters of "Agharta" and "Pangaea" are botched, inferior mixes of the original LPs. Save your pennies, as I did, for the more expensive but vastly superior Sony Japanese pressings. Both not only include more music (a couple of extra minutes on "Pangaea"; a whopping 10-minutes more on "Agharta"), but sound fabulous as well.

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