Released in 1974 on Columbia Records
Compiled from various sessions between 1970-1974
This fantastic compilation album consists of 2 hours of unreleased recording sessions ranging from 1970 to 1974. Despite some incohesiveness, this release contains some of the most exciting, creative and uncategorizable music of Miles’ career. The first track, “He Loved Him Madly”, is a beautifully spacious, 32-minute tribute to the recently passed Duke Ellington. Lead by Miles’ sustained organ chords, the track creates a mournful atmosphere in which the space between the instruments feel more substantial than what’s actually being played. Perhaps this is due to the reverb/echo unit that producer Teo Macero applied to each individual instrument, giving everything shadowy trails that seem to haunt the track, especially on the flute and trumpet solos and the eerie guitars floating between the left and right channels. Teo says that the effects unit he used that day was actually malfunctioning and has since been unable to recreate the sounds he got that day, and attributes it to the ghost of Duke overseeing the session. After over 10 minutes of ambience the song settles into the slow groove of Al Foster’s metronomic drums, Mtume’s congas, and the down-tuned growl of Michael Henderson’s sparse bass playing. At 32 minutes, just this song along could work as it’s own cohesive album, and a great one at that. Brian Eno has called this track one of his biggest inspirations in creating his ambient music.
Tracks “Maiysha”, “Mtume”, “Calypso”(another 30+ minute track!), “Rated X” and “Billy Preston” all feature a similar lineup to the first track, but feature much denser grooves exploring unknown territories between funk, Latin, and African rhythms, while the effects-drenched guitars, organ and occasional wah-trumpet (strangely Miles plays mostly organ on this album) add some interestingly bizarre textures that add to the music’s intriguing, unpredictable nature. The two leftover tracks (the funky “Honky Tonk” with his 1970 lineup and the relatively cliche “Red China Blues”) are probably what add the inconsistency that prevent this from feeling like a cohesive album.