Electric Miles (Jazz Day 2018, Pt. 1)

Revisiting my International Jazz Day program from three years ago for Black History Month, with a two part special focusing on the Jazz idioms most visible practitioner, Miles Davis, during his “electric period”, which saw him move away from traditional Jazz (again) and create a whole new vocabulary for the art form. jazzday #jazzfusion #milesdavis

Warning: Some parts of this program, read from Davis’ autobiography, are NSFW.

This first program will focus on his first and last releases during this period, In A Silent Way from 1969 and Agharta from 1975. Next week will focus on the releases Big Fun, Bitches Brew and On The Corner. To hear all nine parts of the series for this program in 256 Kbps, you can visit my design site at www.aospdx.com.

Poster for the series for 2018 by yours truly.

It is also with great sadness that we also pay tribute to Chick Corea, who played extensively with Davis during this period. Corea passed away on February 9th at the age of 79.


Welcome back one and all. For regular fans of my weekly audio anthology program “What You’re Not Listening To”, the format of this particular program may seem a little odd. The period covered for this program, a very special one for International Jazz Day 2018, is broken into nine sections. This show is dedicated to the “Electric” period of Miles Davis (1926-1991), where he led a wave of Jazz that fused elements of Rock, Funk, Avant Garde and Psychedelia into a heady mix.

Cover of In A Silent Way, 1969. Photo of Miles Davis by Lee Friedlander. Courtesy of Somy/BMG.

During this 5 1/2 year stretch, Miles Davis released no less than 10 double albums and several other single volumes of material. Some of this was released shortly after it was recorded, some of it released while Davis was on tour to keep new product on the shelves and some of it released posthumously. After this intense period of recording and touring the world several times, Davis took a much needed and very long break to focus on his health and well-being, which had suffered greatly during this period due to his increasing drug and alcohol intake.

Cover of Agharta, 1975. Painting by Tadanori Yokoo. Courtesy of Sony/BMG.

It is a period that turned the Jazz and Pop world upside down. Davis, who was an artist who was not content to play his hits like a jukebox, kept pushing the envelope over and over again. It is an often misunderstood but highly influential period in his recorded legacy, and one I am proud to share with all of you today. In addition to the detailed research our regular fans have come to expect, I will also be reading passages from Davis’s autobiography, released a year before his passing to give what I hope is a truly honest, first person account of his recordings during this period.

In a Silent Way

Track: Shhh/Peaceful, recorded and released in 1969.

In a Silent Way marked the beginning of the “Electric” period of Miles Davis. It became a minor hit on the Billboard Top 200 LP charts, being his first LP to do so in four years. Lester Bangs, the legendary rock critic, wrote the following for a review in Rolling Stone magazine: “The kind of album that gives you faith in the future of music. It is not rock and roll, but it’s nothing stereotyped as jazz either.”

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
  • John McLaughlin – guitar
  • Chick Corea – electric piano
  • Herbie Hancock – electric piano
  • Joe Zawinul – electric piano, organ
  • Dave Holland – bass
  • Tony Williams – drums


Track: Maiysha, recorded 1975/released 1976

Initially, I was only going to include 8 segments to this program, but felt compelled to feature a track from this performance. While Davis was on a three-week tour of Japan, he recorded enough material to fill two double albums: Agharta and Pangea. The former was from a set of afternoon performances on the first of February, 1975, the latter from evening performances at the same venue on the same day. The release of this recording in the summer of 1975 coincided with Davis’s retirement from the music business until 1980 due to his failing health.

  • Pete Cosey – guitar, percussion, synthesizer
  • Miles Davis – organ, trumpet
  • Sonny Fortune – alto saxophone, flute, soprano saxophone
  • Al Foster – drums
  • Michael Henderson – bass
  • Reggie Lucas – guitar
  • James Mtume – congas, percussion, rhythm box, water drum

Love to you all.

Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer

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