MILES DAVIS The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (2005)

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (2005)
#9 of 8

Though not officially part of the 8-box set series chronicling Miles Davis’ career, this stunning collection of live material, recorded at The Cellar Door in Washington, DC, fits in as snugly as if it was. With the same general packaging design and first-rate liners from each band member, this box captures Miles’ seemingly tentative excursions over the course of 4 nights in December, 1970 – featuring Keith Jarret, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Bartz, Michael Henderson, John McLaughlin (discs 5 & 6 only), and Airto Moreira. Almost 6 hours of exploratory Miles, with a band that was newly constructed – with sole keyboardist (instead of three) Jarret replacing Chick Corea, and 19 year-old bassist Michael Henderson coming straight from Stevie Wonder’s touring band. Jack Johnson was Miles’ latest release at the time of this recording, but the band had already changed and the performances from this trimmed down live outfit reflect that diversity. Given the intimate club setting and the new line up, Cellar Door isn’t as frantic as Davis’ other work from this period, but the interaction is fascinating nonetheless – especially given that most of this material is previously unreleased. Read Thom Jurek’s review (here) for a more thorough rundown of the contents – which points out that discs 5 & 6, featuring guitarist John McLaughlin, are a stylistic precursor to the manic Live Evil, which would come out the following year. [To be accurate, Jurek points out that some of this material was edited and used on Live Evil.] Check Amazon for hard copies.

1 – Dec 16 – Set 1
Directions (8:55)
Yesternow (17:05)
What I Say (13:13)
Improvisation #1 (4:29)
Inamorata (14:00)

2 – Dec 17 – Set 2
What I Say (13:33)
Honky Tonk (20:00)
It’s About That Time (14:41)
Improvisation #2 (6:39)
Inamorata (14:33)
Sanctuary (0:30)

3 – Dec 18 – Set 2
Directions (13:12)
Honky Tonk (18:32)
What I Say (15:09)

4 – Dec 18 – Set 3
Directions (11:53)
Honky Tonk (17:01)
What I Say (14:12)
Sanctuary (2:04)
Improvisation #3 (5:05)
Inamorata (15:14)

5 – Dec 19 – Set 2
Directions (15:09)
Honky Tonk (20:49)
What I Say (21:31)

6 – Dec 19 – Set 3
Directions (19:05)
Improvisation #4 (5:04)
Inamorata (18:28)
Sanctuary (2:13)
It’s About That Time (7:49)


The Box Set Series

#1 – MILES DAVIS & JOHN COLTRANE The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961
#2 – MILES DAVIS & GIL EVANS The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings
#3 – Seven Steps: The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis 1963-1964
#4 – Miles Davis Quintet 1965-’68
#5 – The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions
#6 – The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions
#7 – The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
#8 – The Complete On The Corner Sessions


  • Willard
    March 30, 2012 - 08:39 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • arclight
    March 30, 2012 - 09:37 | Permalink

    W, Thank you for all of the Miles of late…In many ways, the material represents an apex of 20th century music that should be heard by as many as possible.

    • Willard
      March 30, 2012 - 10:23 | Permalink

      I agree… but you know how some people are about jazz.

  • buzzbabyjesus
    March 30, 2012 - 10:31 | Permalink

    This music transcends being jazz and is simply music.

  • Kwai Chang
    March 30, 2012 - 11:05 | Permalink

    Man…this is the ‘scratch’…
    I just hope Willard doesn’t put me on Miles Methodone after all this.
    I am addicted…thanks

  • ReggieFCat
    March 30, 2012 - 12:03 | Permalink

    And with that, Kwai is officially taken off the milk carton.

  • Kwai Chang
    March 30, 2012 - 12:18 | Permalink

    Hi Reggie,
    The last poster I was on said “NOT Wanted”

  • ate2zee
    March 30, 2012 - 15:18 | Permalink

    #9 of 8–I like that! If only all of life was like that. I think you have created a bunch of Miles Davis addicts. Every day now we’ll be pressing that Willard bar & waiting for our MD pellet.

    • Willard
      March 30, 2012 - 16:05 | Permalink

      Historically, jazz has never played that well around here. I guess because of all the rock and pop we post. I’ll do one more shot of Miles next week (the obnoxious live stuff I mentioned on another post), then you guys will have to score on the street after that. But, with these 45 or so discs, you should be OK for a little while, anyway.

  • Norm
    March 30, 2012 - 17:06 | Permalink

    “…discs 5 & 6, featuring guitarist John McLaughlin, are a stylistic precursor to the manic Live Evil, which would come out the following year…”, well, I hate to break it to the erudite Mr. Jurek, but some of the performances on these discs were RELEASED (in edited form) on Live-Evil. And because L-E was my favourite Miles from this period, Cellar Door is my favourite Miles boxset. Great post!!

  • Willard
    March 30, 2012 - 17:45 | Permalink

    Thanks Norm. Blame my writing for that, though. His review actually points that out.

  • buzzbabyjesus
    March 30, 2012 - 20:28 | Permalink

    This is THE absolute shit. I keep thinking of King Crimson from the same era. This and that was the pinnacle of something.

  • miles
    March 31, 2012 - 12:04 | Permalink

    Remarkable to consider that around this time when the Miles Davis band were moving into rock venues like the Fillmore Auditorium and such, he was not booked the headliner, but rather opening for the likes of Neil Young and the Steve Miller Band. Not that they were such a bad thing, but this music was certainly miles ahead (no pun intended). At least the rock promoters and rock audiences accepted it, while the jazz crowd largely still couldn’t wrap there heads around it — it was such a sea change from what Miles had done previously.

    • Willard
      March 31, 2012 - 12:12 | Permalink

      Miles couldn’t even accept it. He flat out refused to play the Fillmore when Clive Davis first suggested it to him. I don’t know what his actual response was, but it was probably something along the lines of “fuckin’ white motherfuckers.” Unless I’m mistaken, his first opening gig for the youth market was for Laura Nyro.

  • miles
    March 31, 2012 - 12:43 | Permalink

    Laura Nyro, the unspoken object of my desire in those days? In a way, I would’ve liked to have heard that!

    I think however that the anger Miles felt must have played a big part in the intensity of his music at the time. Some of these performances from that era nearly border on assault and battery.

  • Willard
    March 31, 2012 - 12:52 | Permalink

    I’m kinda surprised by that pairing. I would have thought that the two were entirely incompatible. But, Nyro was a Clive Davis signee, so I guess Clive thought it was OK. Of course, those were the days for surreal pairings, so there were probably even far more bizarre examples to be found. We’ve got that Miles show in the archives (when he opened for Steve Miller and Neil Young), if anyone’s interested. Thanks for chiming in, as always, miles (with a small m).

    • denknee
      March 20, 2014 - 22:23 | Permalink

      I guess you haven’t seen the photos of Laura and Miles in the studio together. She wanted him to play on a track on ‘New York Tendaberry’, but he told her she already had the song nailed.

  • r
    April 1, 2012 - 07:31 | Permalink

    Struth. Thanks Willard, for 50 CDs plus of vintage Miles Davis. I’ll look at the Amazon prices once I evaluate, so it isn’t entirely piracy, just preview. I started with Bitches Brew, then Jack Johnson, then Big Fun, so all of this is an adventure, esp the 60s material.

    • Willard
      April 1, 2012 - 07:37 | Permalink

      Cool. Glad you’re diggin’ it all.

  • notBob
    April 1, 2012 - 21:36 | Permalink

    That Miles dude shows potential!!

  • Greg
    April 2, 2012 - 12:56 | Permalink

    I am overwhelmed by this plethora of Miles riches. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brian
    April 3, 2012 - 09:33 | Permalink

    Love this one. Esp. for hearing J Mc really attack the gtr. I did not know this one was not officially part of the series. I guess the Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel is not either? That one is worth a listen too. And In Person Friday and Saturday Night at the Blackhawk, Complete is another box that is worth checking out. Thanks again!

  • Brian
    April 18, 2012 - 14:29 | Permalink

    Thank you so much!! I have been wanting to hear this ever since it came out.

  • June 24, 2012 - 19:21 | Permalink

    Would love a re-up, Willard. MF says your account is suspended, and WUpload is now storage-only, not share. Thanks in advance.

  • SteveD.
    February 6, 2014 - 15:57 | Permalink

    Hey Now! Thanks for the MD Cellar Door. Anyone know where I can score the Plugged Nickel?

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