Dark Magusby Miles Davis
Dark Magus is a live 1974 Carnegie Hall date of a very specific Carnegie Hall date that included most of, but not all the members who recorded the classics Agharta and Pangaea. While drummer Al Foster, bassist Michael Henderson, percussionist James Mtume and guitarists Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas were all present, the key element of Sonny Fortune was not yet in the band. Saxophonists David Liebman and Azar Lawrence were doubling in the saxophone chairs while Dominique Gaumont and his Jimi Hendrix-styled effects riffs was the band's third guitarist. The deep voodoo funk that gelled on the aforementioned recordings hadn't yet come together on this night at Carnegie, near the end of a tour. Featuring four titles, all of them Swahili names for the numbers one through four, Dark Magus is, more than the Carnegie Hall recordings, a jam record. Liebman in his liner notes to the CD issue explains that this wasn't the band at its best-perhaps he was referring to his plying which is certainly unimaginative here compared to the shit the rest of the band is laying down chromatically. By this point Miles was no longer really rehearsing his bands; they showed up and caught a whiff of what he wanted and went with it. Rhythms, colors, keys, all of them would shift and change on a whim from Davis. There were no melodies outside of a three-note vamp on "Wili," and a few riff-oriented melodics on "Tatu," the rest is all deep rhythm-based funk and dark groove. Greasy, mysterious and full of menacing energy, Dark Magus shows a band at the end of its rope, desperate to change because the story has torn itself out of the book, but not knowing where to go, turns in on itself. This dynamics have the feel of unresolved tension, boiling. Gaumont's effects laden guitar playing overshadows the real guitarist in the band, Cosey and his partner the rhythmically inventive Lucas. Gaumont doesn't fit naturally, so he tries to dazzle his way in-check the way Miles cuts his solos off so abruptly while letting the others dovetail and segue. Ultimately, Dark Magus is an over the top ride into the fragmented mind of Miles and his '74 band; it's rhythm section is the most compelling of any jazz rock band in history, but the front lines, while captivating, are too loose and uneven to sustain the listener for the entire ride.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsMiles Davis Primary Artist
Technical CreditsTeo Macero Producer
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Of Davis' three live sets from 1974, this one is the most accessible. Rock listeners will take note of the bursts of Hendrix guitar. The drummers keep the rhythm going and Miles makes some weird trumpet sounds with wah-wah devices as well as playing more traditional jazz solos.
i bought this cd because I read in a metal magazine that this was one of the top 50 hardest albums of all time, so I had to get it.
CAPTURES INCREDIBLE INTENSITY FROM A LIVE PERFORMANCE, YET CAN BE CALM AND PLEASENTLY DISORRIENTING.