Live-Evil (Miles Davis album)

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Live-Evil
Studio album by Miles Davis
Released November 17, 1971
Recorded February 6 & June 3–4, 1970
Columbia Studio B, New York City
December 19, 1970
The Cellar Door, Washington, D.C.
Genre Jazz fusion[1]
Length 101:56
Label Columbia
Producer Teo Macero
Miles Davis chronology
Jack Johnson
(1971)
Live Evil
(1971)
On the Corner
(1972)

Live-Evil is an album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released on November 17, 1971, by Columbia Records. Parts of the album comprise live recordings of Davis' 1970 performance at the Cellar Door, which producer Teo Macero subsequently pieced together in production.[2] It also features his recordings at Columbia's Studio B, with different personnel, on February 6 and June 3–4, 1970. Though all compositions were originally credited to Miles Davis, the studio recordings "Little Church" ("Igrejinha"), "Nem Um Talvez" ("Not Even a Maybe") and "Selim" are by Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, who also played with the Davis band on these tracks.

A number of famous jazz musicians feature on the album, including Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. One of the key musicians on the album, John McLaughlin, was not a regular member of Miles Davis's band during the time of recording. McLaughlin joined the band for one of the four nights at the Cellar Door, rather like a session player; this is not the case for other Davis albums that he worked on.

Davis had originally intended the album to be a spiritual successor to Bitches Brew, but this idea was abandoned when it became obvious that Live-Evil was "something completely different".[3]

Musician lineup on Cellar Door segments[edit]

Gary Bartz played soprano saxophone on "Inamorata".[4]

Cellar Door Segments, December 19, 1970: "Sivad" (a blend of "Directions," a studio fragment of "Honky Tonk," and a live recording of "Honky Tonk"), "What I Say," "Funky Tonk" and "Inamorata and Narration by Conrad Roberts"

Cover artwork[edit]

The album cover was illustrated by artist Mati Klarwein. Klarwein had painted the front cover independently of Davis, but the back cover was painted with a suggestion from Davis:

"I was doing the picture of the pregnant woman for the cover and the day I finished, Miles called me up and said, 'I want a picture of life on one side and evil on the other.' And all he mentioned was a toad. Then next to me was a copy of Time Magazine which had J. Edgar Hoover on the cover, and he just looked like a toad. I told Miles I found the toad."[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau A−[4]
Down Beat 4.5/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly A−[8]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[9]
Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars[10]
Pitchfork Media 9.9/10[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[12]

In a contemporary review, Billboard wrote that the album "captures the live performance of Davis effectively", citing "Sivad", "Selim", and "What I Say" as highlights.[13] Bob Palmer of Rolling Stone said that "this sounds like what Miles had in mind when he first got into electric music and freer structures and rock rhythms", and praised each band members' soloing on the album's "extended, 'blowing' tracks": "Everybody is just playing away, there aren't any weak links, and there isn't any congestion to speak of. Miles reacts to this happy situation by playing his ass off, too".[14] Palmer felt that "Little Church", "Nem Um Talvez", and "Selim" are "what used to be called 'ballads'. They feature larger groups but there aren't any solos. Just stunning, bittersweet lines [...] Each of these tracks is under four minutes, and they are all things of great beauty".[14] Black World '​s Red Scott stated "All the tracks fuse into a perfect complement of musicians passing moods to each other".[15] In a 1981 review, Robert Christgau said that, apart from the meandering "Inamorata", the "long pieces are usually fascinating and often exciting", including "Funky Tonk", which he called Davis' "most compelling rhythmic exploration to date". He added that "the four short pieces are more like impressionistic experiments", and that "Selim" and "Nem Um Talvez" appropriately "hark back to the late '50s."[4]

In a retrospective review, Down Beat magazine said that Live-Evil "isn't pyrotechnic techno-dweeb fusion, but an outstandingly creative electric collage."[7] In his 1997 review for JazzTimes, Tom Terrell hailed the album as "a seamless mixture of studio and live", and "Miles' true electric rite of passage."[16] Allmusic editor Thom Jurek called its tracks "fine and deeply lyrically grooved-out" and described the album as "the sound of transition and complexity, and somehow it still grooves wonderfully", finding "the live material" to be "wonderfully immediate and fiery".[6] Edwin C. Faust of Stylus Magazine dubbed Live-Evil "one of the funkiest albums ever recorded" and commented that its "somber" short pieces "are haunting examples of musical purity—Miles enriching our ears with evocative melodies (his work on Sketches of Spain comes to mind) while the bass creeps cautiously, an organ hums tensly, and human whistles/vocals float about forebodingly like wistful phantoms".[17] Pitchfork Media's Ryan Schreiber called the album "easily the most accessible of Miles Davis' late-'70s electric releases" and described its music as "at once both sexually steamy and unsettling", writing that "The 15+ minute live jams [...] run the gamut from barroom brawl action-funk to sensual bedroom jazz magic, creating two hours of charged eccentricity you'll never forget".[11] Erik Davis, writing in Spin magazine, called Live-Evil "kinetic" and said that it "splices together live chunks and cool studio vignettes, and features the Hindu heavy-metal fretwork of John McLaughlin."[18]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Sivad" (Miles Davis) – 15:16
  2. "Little Church" (Hermeto Pascoal) – 3:17
  3. "Medley: Gemini (Davis) / Double Image" (Joe Zawinul) – 5:56
Side two
  1. "What I Say" (Davis) – 21:12
  2. "Nem Um Talvez" (Pascoal) – 4:03
Side three
  1. "Selim" (Pascoal) – 2:15
  2. "Funky Tonk" (Davis) – 23:28
Side four
  1. "Inamorata and Narration by Conrad Roberts" (Davis) – 26:29

Recording details[edit]

Side One (25:20)
1. "Sivad" (15:13)
(Recorded December 19, 1970 at The Cellar Door, Washington, DC & May 19, 1970 at Columbia Studio B, New York, NY)

Timing Source
00:00-00:01 "Directions" (2nd set) 0:00-0:01 (drum roll)
00:02-03:24 "Directions" (2nd set) 11:30-14:44 + "Honky Tonk" 00:00-00:08
03:25-04:14 "Honky Tonk" (studio, May 19, 1970) 00:00-00:49
04:15-09:11 "Honky Tonk" (2nd set) 05:23-10:20
09:12-15:12 "Honky Tonk" (2nd set) 15:13-21:14

2. "Little Church" (3:14)
(Recorded June 4, 1970 at Columbia Studio B, New York, NY)

3. "Medley: Gemini/Double Image" (5:53)
(Recorded February 6, 1970 at Columbia Studio B, New York, NY)

Side Two (25:12)
1. "What I Say" (21:09)
(Recorded December 19, 1970 at The Cellar Door, Washington, DC)

Timing Source
00:00-20:50 "What I Say" (2nd set) 00:00-20:50
20:51-21:09 "Sanctuary" (2nd set) 00:00-00:18

2. "Nem Um Talvez" (4:03)
(Recorded June 3, 1970 at Columbia Studio B, New York, NY)

Side Three (25:38)
1. "Selim" (2:12)
(Recorded June 3, 1970 at Columbia Studio B, New York, NY)

2. "Funky Tonk" (23:26)
(Recorded December 19, 1970 at The Cellar Door, Washington, DC)

Timing Source
00:00-02:54 "Directions" (3rd set) 00:47-03:41 (theme excised)
02:55-04:53 "Directions" (3rd set) 03:54-05:51 (theme excised)
04:54-16:14 "Directions" (3rd set) 06:20-17:39 (theme excised)
16:15-16:50 "Directions" (3rd set) 18:03-18:39
16:51-20:12 "Funky Tonk" (3rd set) 00:00-03:21
20:13-20:18 "Funky Tonk" (3rd set) 03:59-04:04
20:19-23:23 "Funky Tonk" (3rd set) 04:15-07:20

Side Four (26:29)
1. "Inamorata and Narration by Conrad Roberts" (26:29)
(Recorded December 19, 1970 at The Cellar Door, Washington, DC)

Timing Source
00:00-16:34 "Funky Tonk" (3rd set) 07:21-23:55
16:35-16:47 "Sanctuary" (3rd set) 01:50-02:02
16:47-23:08 "It's About That Time" (3rd set) 00:00-06:21
23:09-26:08 "It's About That Time" 0:00-2:59*

Narration by Conrad Roberts first 0:43

26:08-26:28 "Sanctuary" 0:00-0:20*
(*) The final two sections are not from The Cellar Door.

The album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic.

Note: The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 box set uses the titles "Improvisation #4" (for Keith Jarrett's keyboard intro) and "Inamorata" instead of "Funky Tonk". In the Source column of the tables above, the title "Funky Tonk" is used.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira, eds. (1999). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 0199886407. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "GoogleBooks preview". Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ Davis, Miles. Miles: The Autobiography. ISBN 0-634-00682-7
  4. ^ a b c Christgau 1981, p. 102.
  5. ^ Szwed, John. So What: the Life of Miles Davis, p. 319
  6. ^ a b Jurek, Thom (November 1, 2002). Review: Live-Evil. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-01-08.
  7. ^ a b "Review: Live-Evil". Down Beat: 65. July 1997. 
  8. ^ Sinclair, Tom (August 1, 1997). Review: Miles Davis live albums. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2011-02-26.
  9. ^ Heckman, Don (July 27, 1997). "Unleashing More of the Davis Legacy : MILES DAVIS". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ Cook & Morton 1992, p. 377.
  11. ^ a b Schreiber, Ryan (1997). Review: Live-Evil. Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2011-01-08.
  12. ^ Considine et al. 2004, p. 215.
  13. ^ Columnist (December 18, 1971). "Review: Live-Evil". Billboard: 25.
  14. ^ a b Palmer, Bob (January 20, 1972). Review: Live-Evil. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2011-01-08.
  15. ^ Scott, Red (September 1972). "Review: Live-Evil". Black World: 19, 86.
  16. ^ Terrell, Tom (October 1997). Review: Dark Magus. JazzTimes. Retrieved on 2011-02-05.
  17. ^ Faust, Edwin C. (September 1, 2003). Review: Live-Evil. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2011-01-08.
  18. ^ Davis, Erik (April 1997). "Freakin' the Funk – Revisiting Miles Davis's '70s Visions". Spin: 117.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]