Tag Archives: Fillmore West

MILES AT THE FILLMORE: MILES DAVIS 1970: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 3

Cover of "Bitches Brew"
Cover of Bitches Brew

Think of it, Miles Davis performing live at the Rock Palace, The Fillmore East from June 17-20, 1970. If only you could turn back time and be one of those lucky fans in attendance.

Well the next best thing (plus some cool extras) will soon be available from SONY Legacy Recordings (Amazon fulfills for them) and the Official Miles Davis Web Site.  The 4 CD Audio Box Set, MILES AT THE FILLMORE – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 will drop on March 25th, 2014.

This was the Electric Miles era that introduced the rock audience to jazz fusion through the epic recording, Bitches Brew

The 1970 band comprised Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and Steve Grossman.

Carlos Santana’s love, respect and friendship with Miles Davis has fine tuned me into Miles Davis with a focused intensity I love experiencing. Even today, Santana remains awestruck by Davis’ psychedelic proto-funk, as is made clear in his liner notes to a significant restoration of the old live album “Miles Davis at Fillmore”  

“You can hear that anger and darkness and the craziness of everything that was still in the air from the ’60s when this music was made,” says the guitarist Carlos Santana, a Fillmore regular and witness to the eruption of the electric Miles Davis. “If ever there was a time when a rock audience was willing to open their ears and hear some great modern jazz like the kind Miles was creating, it was at the Fillmore.”

The extras included with the box set differ based upon your point of purchase. Order your copy of the box set at MilesDavis.com and get the exclusive poster below with your purchase!

There are three added bonus tracks that add another 35 minutes of music, released here for the first time, recorded in April 1970,(right after Bitches Brew was released) at the Fillmore West in San Francisco (where Bill Graham put Miles and band on a bill with the Grateful Dead and Stone The Crows). That live evening will be included with your purchase, everywhere.

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Super Session, Variations on a Theme

The original album, Super Session has begat several variations on a theme. Starting with the original, genius sessions in 1968, then moving through time Al Kooper and Columbia Records (Sony) have shown us the extended value(at times) of more collaboration, live recordings, and remastering efforts.

We begin the Super Session catalogue with the original pressing on vinyl for Columbia Records. I bought this record in the summer of 1968. I took it to high school with me often during senior year (68-69). I played it many days in my art class where we had a hi-fi system for music as a back drop. I played it the last day of high school in the gymnasium as the prom committee decorated for our prom, The Magic Carpet Ride (1969). The blues filled the gym as we seniors reflected on the last day of class. We booked the superstar band from Elektra Records, Rhinoceros to play as our prom band. They were awesome.

1) Super Session, Columbia Records CS 9701, released July 22, 1968

Sony released Super Session as a 24-bit remastered CD on April 8, 2003. I bought a copy and I was disappointed with the result. Yes like most reissues there were extra tracks, even editions of the original tracks without horns (which I abhor). But I found it overkill and a wasted effort.

What frosted my cake even more was that Al Kooper remixed Super Session in 5.1 SACD. But Sony closed the SACD division and this recording along with Blood, Sweat and Tears, Child Is The Father To Man sit on a shelf, collecting dust somewhere. Such a pity.

In late 2004 Al Kooper released this statement:

To the best of my knowledge, based on an unnamed source, the new head of SONY/BMG shut down the 5.1 SACD department and let everyone go. A year and a half ago I remixed Super Session and Child Is Father to the Man for them in 5.1 SACD. They both came out incredible and so I mastered them with Bob Ludwig. Now it seems they will languish on the shelves under the current administration of SONY/BMG.,……..Typical, in soooo many ways.” [7]

2) The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Columbia KGP-6, 1969

I was very excited in 1969 when I read in Rolling Stone Magazine that Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield had a live recording coming out based on the Super Sessions. I haunted To-Ve’s Record Shop in Norwalk until that recording hit the wall rack. I loved the feel of that live recording immensely. It also introduced me to a very young Carlos Santana who stepped in to play for Mike Bloomfield when insomnia placed him in the hospital during the Fillmore West gig.

The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al ...
The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cover painting by Norman Rockwell is mesmerizing. Here is a picture of Al, Norman and Mike together.

3) Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes 12-13-68, Legacy ‎CK 85278, April 8, 2003

The tapes for Super Session Live (East) were lost for 30 years. Fortunately they were recovered and we have the Fillmore East gigs to listen to now. The sound of the Fillmore East is unequalled in the history of live music recordings. The extra juice of this recording is that Johnny Winter was, if you will excuse the expression, white-hot in those days. Mike Bloomfield introduces Johnny Winter to the audience and he rips it up, Texas blues style.

Michael Bloomfield Documentary Film Project

One of the aspects about Facebook that I relish are the connections we make with the passions we enjoy. I was recently asked to “Like” the Michael Bloomfield Documentary Film Project Facebook Page. I loved the invitation and what I have learned about Michael Bloomfield’s legacy ever since ;)

I am thankful that Bob Sarles and the team at Ravin’ Films are focused on delivering this very important documentary. They have produced some of my most favorite music videos that I have in my music library.  The film will be available later this year as a DVD in the Mike Bloomfield box set being produced by Al Kooper for Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music.

Micheal Bloomfield was an exceptional blues cat. I play Super Session just so Michael Bloomfield can happily sting me with his guitar lead on “Albert Shuffle” as well as the other tracks he plays on. The Super Session recording may be 45 years old but it’s truly alive every time I spin it.

When I read the documentary description it gets my juices flowing. B.B. King felt Michael Bloomfield was like a son to him. I can only imagine the reciprocal feelings from Michael. Michael Bloomfield convinced Bill Graham to book B.B. King at the Fillmore West and it became the cross the chasm for the King of the Blues.

Documentary Description

A biographical documentary about the life and music of the late, great blues guitarist Michael Bloomfield. This film features never before seen on camera interviews with artists including Carlos Santana, BB King, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop, Bob Weir, Al Kooper, John Hammond, Barry Goldberg, Sam Lay, Yank Rachel, Mark Naftalin, Nick Gravenites music promoters Bill Graham and Chet Helms and many others.

If you want to know more about Michael Bloomfield I urge you to get a copy of the book, Michael Bloomfield, If You Love These Blues, An Oral History by Jan Mark Wolkin and Bill Keenom. I’ve read it twice. It is an extended series of interviews with family, friends and colleagues. It forms the basis of the documentary.

Fillmore East Poster and Handbill Art

Bill Graham had east coast poster artists who he commissioned to design posters and handbills for The Fillmore East concerts. The most notable poster artists were Helen Hersh and David Byrd.

 

The poster and handbill for the  first concert at The Fillmore East, March 8, 1968, Big Brother with Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley and Albert King.

Helen Hersh

David Byrd

I was living on a multi-media commune outside Manhattan when several of my schoolmates from Carnegie-Mellon were opening the Fillmore East at the old 2nd Avenue Theatre in the East Village with Bill Graham from San Francisco. Manager Kip Cohen called to say they needed a poster artist and they all thought to call me, as I was the one visual artist amongst a group of theater graduates. At the time I was interested in crystal matrices and used a hex grid to create the hair as a mass of psychedelic photons in orange, yellow-green, magenta and black. Unlike the San Francisco Fillmore, we did not do a poster every week, but only for major stars like Hendrix. Film positive painted from behind in acrylic.

Super Session

Super Session – Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills, Daily Post 2011 #2

Super Session
Image via Wikipedia

It was my last day of public school, June 1969, I was hanging out in the gymnasium, loving the freedom before me yet dealing with the ambiguity of where was my life going?  I really had a case of the blues. All around me various members of my senior class were putting up the decorations for our senior prom, which we were attending the following night.

In the middle of the gym floor was a record player, I walked over with my copy of Super Session, placed it on the platter, dropped the needle and shuffled back over to the bleachers to sit and listen. The sound of Mike Bloomfield‘s guitar and Al Kooper‘s organ filled the gym with the stinging sound of “Albert’s Shuffle” which filled my void masterfully. My angst about the future slipped away as the intensity of the music appeased my concerns. It was then I knew that music would carry me through the next phase of my existence.

Ratchet ahead 41 years to when I purchase the remastered edition of  Super Session. What a tour de force to hear a cleaner, enhanced edition of this historic work. It all comes flooding back in waves of sound that envelops the listener and finds me at another major fork in the road.

Al Kooper had left Blood, Sweat and Tears, after making a monumental recording with them Child is the Father to the Man (Al Kooper signed this album for me a few years back at Stage One in Fairfield!).

Mike Bloomfield had just left The Electric Flag. Another recording that helped define the music of the 60s in terms of Texas blues mixed with R&B. Mike brought with him to the Super Session recording session two ex-Flag band mates Harvey Brooks on bass and Barry Goldberg on electric piano (Barry contributed to tracks 1 & 2).

The Super Session recording was rounded out admirably by “Fast” Eddie Hoh on drums and Steve Stills on guitar who filled in for Mike Bloomfield who left after one day’s recording to deal with his insomnia. Steve Stills was in the process of leaving Buffalo Springfield and he turned out to be the perfect complement to completing Super Session. It ended up fitting that Super Session would usher in the era of the super groups, representing a transitional portal for Kooper, Bloomfield and Stills in their respective careers.

Al Kooper in the liner notes states about Super Session, “…amazingly found itself timeless….making this one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on.”

Super Session Tracks

Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield Side

1. Albert’s Shuffle

2. Stop

3. Man’s Temptation

4. His Holy Modal Majesty

5. Really

Al Kooper/Steve Stills Side

6. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, IT Takes A Train To Cry

7. Season of the Witch

8. You Don’t Love Me

9. Harvey’s Tune

Bonus Tracks

10. Albert’s Shuffle – without horns

I like the edginess of this song without the horns, but I can perfectly understand why Al Kooper had arranger Joe Scott add them.

11. Season of the Witch – without horns

The sound of this recording without the horns is echo ridden and almost hollow at points (dynamically impaired Al Kooper called this, rightfully so).

12. Blues for Nothing – outtake with Mike Bloomfield

13. Fat Grey Cloud (Live), (Previously Unreleased) – Recorded 1968 at the Fillmore West (probably from The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper sessions)

There were two live recordings of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper that took place, the first was at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, September 26-28th 1968, featuring the first live recording of Carlos Santana released when he was 22 years old* This live performance also stars Elvin Bishop. It was released by Columbia Records in 1969.

Then later in the year at the Fillmore East in New York City they recorded, Fillmore East: Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. The Lost Concert Tapes 12/13/68 (featuring Johnny Winter)

* Carlos Santana was recorded in 1967 on Santana Live at the Fillmore in 1967 but it was not released commercially until January 1, 1997