Saturday, June 5, 2021

Miles Davis - On The Crest Of The Airwaves [2011] (4 x CD's) + Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) OST [1958]



Miles Davis - On The Crest Of The Airwaves [2011] (4 x CD's) + Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) OST [1958]

On The Crest Of The Airwaves consists of 3 live concert recordings by various Miles Davis groups. The concerts are actually Live At The Berkshire Music Center Tanglewood, 18.8.1970, FM Broadcast, Live At The Fillmore West, San Francisco, 15.10.1970, KPFA FM Broadcast and Live At The Concert Hall, Melbourne, 2.5.1988, Broadcast On ABC FM.  

The sound on this first set is lacking some dynamics, sounding slightly distant. But don't think that's distracting. True audiophiles will not be happy, but for the rest of us-think good quality bootleg. The band is Davis, Gary Bartz-soprano/alto sax, Chick Corea-electric piano, Keith Jarrett-organ/electric piano, Jack DeJohnette-drums, and Airto-percussion. This gig is from a 18-8-70 FM broadcast at the Berkshire Music Center. This is a typical set from the period, with tunes like "Directions", "Bitches Brew", "Sanctuary", "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down", and others the band was playing at gigs. Listen to "Spanish Key/The Theme" with it's electric funk and groove for a good example of 1970 Davis. Throughout, the band lays down a sometimes thick, spiraling sound, only to open things up before taking off again. The changes in tempo (and feel), the players weaving in and out of each other (and at times the entire band), a complex density of sounds in contrast to a more open sound, the horns (both Davis and Bartz are on pretty equal ground), the keyboards jumping in and out with stabs of sparkling notes-it's all here. And as usual for this period, Davis knows exactly when to interject his horn, and plays just enough notes/chords that gives the music that Davis feel. Similar to the Grateful Dead, the band segues from one tune to the next with a virtually seamless, subtle use of a few notes, and before you know it, you're into another song. Check out the segues from "Directions" through "Sanctuary"-yes-this band can segue masterfully from one tune to the next like The Dead.

The second disc is from an FM broadcast at the Fillmore West in 1970. This is taken from the actual broadcast, with the DJ talking very shortly over the band in one spot-otherwise it's an uninterrupted concert. The sound is very good, with good definition of each instrument. The band is Davis, Bartz, Jarrett, DeJohnette, Airto, Michael Henderson-bass (originally from Stevie Wonder's band), and Jumma (sometimes spelled "Juma") Santos-percussion. Beginning with a stop/start "Honky Tonk", the band slips into "What I Say", another fine "Sanctuary", "Yesternow", and a nice "Bitches Brew", and then a funky "Funky Tonk/The Theme". The rhythm section plays an important part on most of these tunes-laying down an insistent groove that underlies most everything. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes they seem to decide where the music is going. But as usual, Davis is the one controlling the sound, with a nod or a look. This set is at least as good as the previous 1970 gig, with Davis playing a lot of horn, especially through the 13 minutes of "Funky Tonk/The Theme". Henderson's bass is thick and heavy without being overbearing, the keyboard work of Jarrett is almost intuitive, and DeJohnette's drumming fits perfectly-laying down a foundation for the other players. This tune is a highlight among others here. If you've heard Davis' music circa "Jack Johnson", you will know the band's sound.

The last two discs are from a long concert from 2-5-88, broadcast on ABC FM from the Concert Hall, Melbourne, Australia. The sound is fine here too. The band features Davis (also on synth), Kenny Garrett-soprano/alto sax/flute, 'Foley'-guitar, Robert Irving III-synth, Adam Holzman-synth, Benny Reitveld-bass, Ricky Williams-drums, and Marilyn Mazur-percussion. This is Davis' last real band (some of these players showed up on various albums from this era), made up of young players, in large part because Davis wanted a "newer", hip sound that he was hearing at the time, and who, Davis thought (hoped), would help lead his music into another phase. It's full of Davis' horn (sometimes sounding a bit fragile) and a lot of (for want of a better name) funky keyboard sounds, that Davis would dart across with a few notes from his trumpet. If you've heard the "Live Around The World" set from 1988-91 (or even "The Complete Miles At Montreux" 19 CD set), you'll have some insight into this set. You'll also notice the same song titles for both this new set and "Live...World".

The tunes range from an updated version of "In A Silent Way-Intruder", "New Blues (Star People)", "Human Nature", "Movie Star", "Time After Time", "Carnival Time" and several others. "In A Silent Way-Intruder" into "New Blues (Star People)" is different, but has an insistent groove running through it that makes it very listenable. "Perfect Wave" is a good example of Davis' playing during this era. The band's sound has that newer, younger feel to it-apparently what Davis was looking for. The synths play an active role on many of these tunes, along with Wellman's sometimes pedestrian sounding drumming, with Garrett interjecting his horn(s) along with Foley's guitar. "The Senate-You And Me" is similar in sound with lots of synths, and bass and drums, with Foley stepping up for a solo over a bed of electric sound. Most (if not all) the tunes from this set will be familiar to fans of this period of Davis' musical journey. Again, the sound here is very good-every instrument sounds clean and open. There's a very brief radio station identification after "The Senate...Me", but it's done between tunes and doesn't intrude over any music. The music then begins with "Human Nature" (listen to Garrett's horn!), and on to "Wrinkle" (with Davis blowing all through the tune), "Tutu" (again Davis blows on this with a sometimes muted horn), "Movie Star", and "Splatch". The second disc of this concert begins with "Time After Time", and then "Heavy Metal", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Carnival Time", "Tomaas", "Burn" and ends with "Portia".

Taken together, this concert is a good example of the type of music Davis was playing shortly before his death. What style(s) would he play next? More of the same? Music even closer to pop? A harder jazz sound? Jazz-rock? Utilizing a big band? Because of poor health, maybe nothing? Who knows.

Fans will argue forever about the relative merits of Davis' various bands and sound. The gulf between 1970 and 1988 is vast and telling. Some dismiss his work near the end of his life as lightweight-Davis playing the lowest common denominator "muzak" for whatever reason. Others hear a near rebirth in this music. But whatever you hear (or don't hear), you can't say that Davis ever stopped trying something new. The gulf between the two periods here is a good example of Davis' on-going quest for new music. For collectors/fans of Davis' music-you might want to check this out. There's a lot of good playing here from both bands/eras-if you're open to what Davis was doing. (Amazon)

Also added as a bonus is one of my favorite Miles albums, Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) OST [1958].


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Track lists

Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) OST [1958]

01 Nuit sur les Champs-Élysées (take 1) 2:28

02 Nuit sur les Champs-Élysées (take 2) 5:26

03 Nuit sur les Champs-Élysées (take 3) 2:56

04 Nuit Sur Les Champs-Élysées [Take 4] (Florence Sur Les Champs Élysées) 3:03

05 Assassinat (Take 1) (Visite Du Vigile) 2:07

06 Assassinat (Take 2) Julien Dans l'Ascenseur 2:14

07 Assassinat (Take 3) L'Assassinat De Carala 2:13

08 Motel (Dîner au motel) 4:02

09 Final (Take 1) 3:10

10 Final (Take 2) 3:05

11 Final (Take 3) Chez Le Photographe Du Motel 4:10

12 Ascenseur (Évasion de Julien) 2:04

13 Le Petit Bal (Take 1) 2:44

14 Le Petit Bal (Take 2) (Au Bar Du Petit Bac) 2:58

15 Séquence Voiture (Take 1) 3:00

16 Séquence Voiture (take 2) (Sur l'autoroute) 2:22

17 Générique 2:50

18 L'Assassinat De Carala 2:11

19 Sur L'Autoroute 2:20

20 Julien Dans L'Ascenseur 2:09

21 Florence Sur Les Champs-Élysées 2:52

22 Diner Au Motel 3:59

23 Évasion de Julien 0:54

24 Visite Du Vigile 2:06

25 Au Bar Du Petit Bac 2:54

26 Chez Le Photographe Du Motel 3:54

Miles Davis - On The Crest Of The Airwaves [2011]


01 Time After Time 8:50

02 Heavy Metal 14:25

03 Don't Stop Me Now 9:04

04 Carnival Time 18:14

05 Tomaas 20:11

06 Burn 3:37

07 Portia 4:42


01 Directions 8:13

02 Bitches Brew 13:33

03 It's All About That Time 7:10

04 Sanctuary 1:36

05 Spanish Key / The Theme 6:27

06 Miles Runs The Voodoo Down 4:50


01 Honky Tonk 12:47

02 What I Say 11:02

03 Sanctuary 3:19

04 Yesternow 14:11

05 Bitches Brew 8:44

06 Funky Tonk / The Theme 12:59


01 In A Silent Way - Intruder 6:17

02 New Blues (Star People) 7:55

03 Perfect Way 4:38

04 The Senate, You And Me 10:31

05 Human Nature 13:41

06 Wrinkle 4:54

07 Tutu 13:23

08 Movie Star 3:52

09 Splatch 9:27




  1. Replies
    1. Hi Cri,
      Sure is. I hope you are still enjoying the sounds of Miles.


  2. Replies
    1. Hi blind willie,
      This is a great set , maybe not the most popular but a terrific listen. Enjoy.


  3. Thank you for posting this. Had heard Davis a couple of times here in Switzerland, once in France, spread over many years. Listening to your post was like entering a beautiful time machine. All the best!

    1. Hi varenna45.
      What a wonderful way to listen to Miles. I am happy to hear you enjoyed the experience.
      Thank you.


  4. Always, Miles ahead - thanks, Butter!

    1. Thanks Aging Child.
      You have a way with words. 4 words only and you made me feel good.
      I like Miles Davis and the comment above ... "But whatever you hear (or don't hear), you can't say that Davis ever stopped trying something new."


  5. Oh, Butter; as a writer, at best I just do with words what you do with paint and canvas and PC screen.

    Miles I'm still getting to know, even though I have a lot of his recordings. And he never stopped innovating - e.g., back in 2010, BIGOzine posted a non-commercial recording of a 1988 NYC pierside concert (; at one point, as a commenter noted, Davis "started trading licks with a ferry that was blowing a horn coming to dock"!

    Some of that page's links are still live, though not all of them. If you or others here need the full set and can't DL it anymore, I've got it and can zip it up and share it here. Cheers!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Guitarradeplastico,scraping oddities.