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Miles Davis: Dark Magus

Album Reviews:

Spin (1/98, p.88) - Ranked #2 on Spin's list of "Top 10 Reissues."

Spin (8/97, p.117) - "...the sound of meltdown....Miles sounds like a mournful but pissed-off banshee, while the three guitarists--Reggie Lucas, Pete Cosey, and the effects-drenched Dominique Gaumont--take you somewhere between and beyond James Brown and Can..."

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....on [DARK MAGUS], the band runs the voodoo down with particular ferocity." - Rating: A

Q (7/01, p.87) - Included in Q's "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time" - "...A maelstrom of uncut improvisational fury....this was arguably the furthest out Miles ever got..."

Down Beat (7/97, p.65) - 4 stars (out of 5) - "This is about as demonic as the Prince of Darkness can make it....the Henderson/Foster/Mtume rhythm section is in full flower..."

JazzTimes (10/97, p.87) - "...tomorrow's sound yesterday....Davis conjured up a terrifyingly exhilarating aural asylum of wails, howls, clanks, chanks, telltale heartbeats, wah wah quacks, white noise and loud silences..."

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..."

Album Notes

Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet, organ); Dave Liebman (soprano & tenor saxophones, flute); Azar Lawrence (tenor saxophone); Reggie Lucas, Pete Cosey, Dominique Gaumont (guitar); Michael Henderson (electric bass); Al Foster (drums); Mtume (percussion).

Recorded at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York on March 3, 1974. Includes liner notes by Dave Liebman.

All tracks have been digitally remastered.

In the context of Miles Davis' early '70s electric experimentation, DARK MAGUS seems like the final overload. It is a wall of screaming sound; a descent into a sonic abyss from which there can be no escape. The band is a polyphony of rhythm, three banshee-like electric guitars, two saxophones trying to make some harmonic sense of this post-modern revival meeting, and one headless-horseman of a trumpet player guiding the tempest.

The four pieces performed at this Carnegie Hall concert bear only a passing resemblance to the give-and-take playfulness established on IN A SILENT WAY, but the textures have multiplied. The saxophones are perched in free-jazz territory, Al Foster's drums are an unstoppable ball of energy, and Mtume's percussion suggests King Tubby's experiments with every phrase. When he wasn't stretching his trumpet lines past every conceivable breaking point, Miles would summon dark storm clouds on an electric organ. The voodoo was definitely in the house, and the weak of heart were probably carried out on stretchers.


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