Of Miles Davis's numerous live releases from the 1970s, this one rates as less essential, but it does provide further insight into the fascinating chronology of Davis' music as he entered the final stages of his pre-retirement "electric period." The band heard here includes drummer Al Foster, electric bassist Michael Henderson, electric guitarists Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas, percussionist Mtume, and saxophonist Dave Liebman. Several of these players are heard to better effect one year earlier on the more colorful and varied In Concert: Live at Philharmonic Hall recording, which featured material from On the Corner, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, and Get Up With It. By 1973, Davis' music had increasingly focused on mesmerizing static harmonies, electronics, and dense polyrhythmic layers that danced around the core of Foster's surging beats and Henderson's subterranean throb. The themes are noticeably shorter, sometimes only a few notes, and tempo/key changes are less frequent than earlier electric period models. From this cauldron often came solos of considerable potency, even anguish. Dave Liebman plays particularly well here, as does Davis with his wah pedal underfoot. Cosey was a relatively recent addition to this lineup and had yet to unleash the stunning, detuned meltdowns heard shortly hereafter. Instead, his soloing is more spacious and overtly blues-based, while Lucas counters with slices of deep funk. This recording clearly illuminates a path to the material heard -- more fully realized and better recorded -- on Dark Magus, Agharta, and Pangaea. Unfortunately, the sound quality is erratic; instruments occasionally disappear and the mono mix is inconsistent, although it does eventually settle in. The recording does not reliably capture the dense tapestry of sound and rhythm that this ensemble created. Most of the tracks are incorrectly or haphazardly titled. For instance, the "Ife" listed here bears no resemblance to the studio version heard on Big Fun. Despite these flaws, this recording is certainly recommended for completists, although the above-mentioned recordings offer better representations of this incendiary music.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Kirschenmann