MILES DAVIS — Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Filmore West (review)

MILES DAVIS — Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Filmore West album cover Live album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
It's hard to talk about this album without comparing it to 'Miles Live at Fillmore (Fillmore East)', an album that was recorded a few months later after Keith Jarret joined the band. Both albums are based on material taken from 'Bitches Brew', 'Jack Johnson' and a few other sources, but I think 'Live at Fillmore' is the far better album. On this album, 'Black Beauty Live at the Fillmore West', the band still sounds like they are trying to get their individual voices to merge into a cohesive unit. Saxophonist Steve Grossman is still playing in an all-out expressionistic avant-garde jazz style, by the time they record 'Live at Fillmore' he will be into the more forceful and riff driven psychedelic jazz-rock that Miles was looking for. The band as a whole is so much more in tune with each other and intuitively cohesive when they record the latter album. This album also sounds spare without Keith Jarret, who will bring so much when he joins the band later. Chick Corea is an incredible electric pianist, but something about him and Jarret together is even more incredible. The sound of two furious highly skilled dissonant electronic keyboardists battling it out is one of 'Live at Fillmore's' strongest points. Also, by the time they record the latter album, Corea is experimenting a lot more with his echoplex and ring modulator, which brings a lot more intensity and sonic variety to the music.

The other thing that is missing from 'Black Beauty' is Airto, He's there, but you can't hear him. On 'Live at Fillmore' he leads the band like a shaman/clown with various noise makers and percussion instruments and adds so much to the sound. I think on 'Black Beauty' someone forgot to turn his microphone on.

This isn't a bad album at all. Miles, Dejohnette, Corea and company crank out that hard driving dissonant avant-garde jazz rock that Miles is so well known for during this period. Since Corea is by himself on keyboards, you can clearly hear all his inventive lines and chord voicings , which are hard to hear on some of Miles' more cluttered albums. But if really want to hear Miles and his cohorts really expand on the spare material provided by Bitches Brew, get the much better 'Live at Fillmore', also called 'Live at Fillmore East'.
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