has reached the end-of-life and is now read-only. Please see the EOL announcement for details

First off, we're going to start with Miles Davis' Jack Johnson.

IMO, this is the best rock album to come out of the psychedelic era.

It's two tracks, roughly an hour total. You can listen to it here:

Pay attention to the fact that you don't hear a trumpet (and therefore, you don't here Miles) until two minutes and twenty seconds in to the track, and just before Miles comes in (right at the two minute mark) all the music dies down, and almost stops completely. (More to come.)

If you've never listened to any Jazz-Rock fusion stuff, or anything from Miles in the 70s. You're in for an absolute treat.

Before recording this album, Davis said he was putting together "The Greatest Rock and Roll band you've ever heard of."

Listen to the album, and I think you'll agree that he damn near succeeded.

So, Miles doesn't show up until two minutes in to the first track. What gives, right?

He wasn't in the studio yet. He was running late. This was day one, take one, and John McLaughlin was just dicking around in the studio. The engineer was recording, because when Jazz musicians are in the studio the engineers were always recording, lest they miss something.

He got some other musicians involved, and they continued to dick around.

Miles shows up, and everyone slows down, preparing to stop dicking around and record some real music.

Instead, Miles urges them to continue.

He picks up his trumpet, and jumps in to the middle of this impromptu jam, and turns it in to what is widely recognized as the landmark album of the Jazz-Fusion movement.

Some people call it the greatest rock album of all time.

I wouldn't go that far, but for what it actually is, it's astounding.

Keep in mind, though, this is the same Miles Davis who, in 1987, was invited to dinner with the Reagans. When Nancy Regan asked him what he'd done to merit being included in the dinner, he looked at her with a straight face and said "Well, I've changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the president?"

So, while they were recording Jack Johnson (which was used as a soundtrack to a film about the boxer of the same name, and has nothing to do with acoustic bro rock.) they recorded something like 20 hours worth of material.

They kept reworking and re-recording stuff.

There is a record of this in "The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions" because this was 1970, and the studio knew to keep recording when Davis was in the building.

But after all of that, they release day one, take one. They release the fluke.

That kind of serendipity, that's Jazz.

Miles Davis said he was putting together the best Rock Band ever.

And then he decided to back that up. He toured the Jack Johnson and Bitches Brew material. He played The Fillmore in California.

This is the club that was famed as the home of the san fransisco psych scene. The club that launched Janis Joplin's career, and Jefferson airplane, and a dozen other bands.

And he played to a packed fucking house. I think the recording is on youtube. Give a second to go track it down.

Here is Miles Davis at the Filmore West in 1970. I'm linking to the beginning of Yesternow (track two from the Jack Johnson sessions.)

This recording is subpar, and I will probably be tooting a better live Miles performance in a few minutes.

Okay, here's a set from a few days before:

It's a better recording, similar track list.

This is the one that made it in to my personal collection. Miles Davis Fillmore West October 15th 1970.

These session, though, are way more focused on Miles than the recordings would be. There isn't much guitar, because Miles wasn't touring with John McLaughlin.

Let's talk about John McLaughlin.

John McLaughlin is the guitarist on Miles Davis' Jack Johnson, Bitches Brew, In a Silent way, and others.

He was the guitarist behind the Mahavishnu orchestra.

Here he is in 1973, with Carlos Santana, covering John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

· · Web · 0 · 1 · 1

I think it's fair to say that, without John McLaughlin Jazz would have been a very different world in the 70s and beyond.

Here he is in 1971 with the Mahavishnu Orchestra on their debut album The Inner Mounting Flame:

This is jazz fusion with an emphasis on the fusion.

They draw on many varities of music, and weave a dense tapestry of sound that gives impressions of many, almost conflicting, genres, styles, and ideas.

It's a beautiful record, and one that I spin as often as I can.

When you're done with The Inner Mounting Flame, take a look at Birds of Fire.

This is funkier, and has a more clear rock influence:

Some solid stuff in all of that.

For me, Birds of Fire is a less difficult album. It's more friendly to people who aren't "Jazz People."

The riffing, the improvisation, comes off more like an extended rock jam than like an actual Jazz album. (Granted, it's a highly technical extended rock jam, with some virtuoso performances.)

Sign in to participate in the conversation

the mastodon instance at is retired

see the end-of-life plan for details: