ROIO of the Week [Recordings of Indeterminate Origin]



Note: Homemade cover; this CD has not been booted before.

Miles Davis' The Complete Live At The Cellar Door
[no label 6CDs]

The band that played at the Cellar Door in New York from Dec 16 to 19, 1970 had just finished recording for Miles Davis' Jack Johnson soundtrack. So you can expect your skull to be crushed. The only official release of any of these performances from the four nights was just four tracks included in the Live-Evil album. From the sound, to cover art, to album title, to song titles [eg the reversed namecheck of Selim Sivad], there was something disturbing about this period of Miles Davis' career. The cool, kind-of-blue jazz man had turned into a monster mutha****er, absorbing the rich rock culture and hurling it back with potent fury.

Thankfully those four nights were recorded and sometime in 2000, six CDs purportedly from Columbia Records emerged containing all the shows. The repertoire covered included Directions, Honky Tonk, What I Say, Inamorata/Funky Tonk and It's About That Time. The Miles Davis Sextet played three sets per night and on the final night, guitarist John McLaughlin, sat in.

The six CDs offered the following shows:

CD 1 had the first and second sets from Dec 16, 1970.

CD 2 had the second set from Dec 17, 1970.

CD 3 had the second set from Dec 18, 1970.

CD 4 had the third set from Dec 18, 1970.

CD 5 had the second set from Dec 19, 1970 [with John McLaughlin]

CD 6 had the third set from Dec 19, 1970 [with John McLaughlin]

Otherwise the band on each night was Miles Davis (tpt); Gary Bartz (ss, as); Keith Jarrett (el-p, org); Michael Henderson (el-b); Jack DeJohnette (d) and Airto Moreira (perc, voc).

The origin of this 6CDs is traced back to 1994 when Columbia approached the independent and respected jazz label, Mosaic, for advice as to how Miles Davis' catalogue could be refreshed. Mosaic's Michael Cuscuna and his team suggested grouping the Davis catalog around seven box sets, the first of which was released in 1997, beginning the Complete Columbia Studio Sessions.

Along the way, Columbia got the idea to reissue complete live recordings [eg Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel], the latest of which was The Complete Live At The Blackhawk [4CDs] in late 2003. The Complete Live At The Cellar Door has been announced as a potential release, together with The Complete Juan les Pins live set from 1969 [2CD]. But no date has been set.

Since the promos appeared, The Cellar Door set has gained notoriety among Miles Davis collectors for its excellent recording quality as well as being the only document of Davis and McLaughlin playing together live. He seems to make the music boil with his presence.

Someday, Sony/Columbia will get around to releasing this material commercially, until then this is all you can get. - Michael Cheah

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