Rolling Stone (1/20/72, pp.51-52) - "...Everybody is just playing away, and there aren't any weak links....Miles reacts to this happy situation by playing his ass off....this sounds like what Miles had in mind when he first got into electric music and freer structures and rock rhythms..."
Spin (8/97, p.117) - "...splices together live chunks and cool studio vignettes, and features the Hindu heavy-metal fretwork of John McLaughlin..."
Entertainment Weekly (8/01/97, p.75) - "...With his inimitable trumpeting--by turns melancholy, pungent, and lyrical--at the music's center, his electrified cohorts stretch the limits of jazz, rock, and funk..."
- Rating: A-
Down Beat (7/97, p.65) - 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) - "Initially recorded in '69 and '70, when the band was in flux, this palindrome-titled monster was later assembled out of live and studio tapes by Davis and producer Teo Macero.... this isn't pyrotechnic techno-dweeb fusion, but an outstandingly creative electric collage..."
JazzTimes (10/97, p.87) - "...Miles' true electric rite of passage..."
Musician (8/97, p.87) - "...The ears-open interactivity of Davis' ensembles--that ability to engage in serious musical conversation while flying in the upper atmosphere--is enough to shame any current bebop-babbling jazz automaton..."
Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Hermeto Pascoal (vocals, whistling, electric piano, drums); Conrad Roberts (spoken vocals); Gary Bartz (soprano & alto saxophones); Steve Grossman, Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone); Keith Jarrett (electric piano, organ); Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea (electric piano); John McLaughlin (guitar); Khalil Balakrishna (electric sitar); Dave Holland (acoustic & electric basses); Ron Carter (acoustic bass); Michael Henderson (electric bass); Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham (drums); Airto Moreia (percussion).
Recorded at Columbia Studio B, New York, New York between February 6 and June 4, 1970, and live at the Cellar Door, Washington, D.C. on December 19, 1970. Includes liner notes by Gary Bartz.
Digitally remastered by Tom Ruff (Sony Music Studios, New York, New York).
Broken into a group of short studio pieces and four extended live jams, LIVE EVIL finds Miles Davis going further up the river, into the heart of uncharted musical darkness. In the studio, Miles took simple tone ballads and immersed them in the electrified air that he'd been breathing since IN A SILENT WAY. "Nem Um Talvez" and "Selim" are sister pieces; with Miles' trumpet bathed in Hermeto Pascoal's keyboards and vocal moans, sprinkled with proto-dub percussion effects.
The live pieces are another animal altogether. Augmented by John McLaughlin's Hendrixian guitar runs and bolstered by Michael Henderson's funky bass pops, these are blues-tinged tickets to an electric, improvisational nirvana. With room to stretch out in any direction, each soloist develops fluidly within the ensemble, then thrusts powerfully forward. Jack DeJohnette and Airto Moreira hold down the backbeat, shifting it into a multitude of forms; Keith Jarrett fills the down-tempo breaks admirably. But it's Miles and McLaughlin who incite this music to the frenzied riot that is it's true calling. When the time comes and the massive, dark groove descends, it comes with a ritualistic, heretofore-unheard fervor.
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