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Live from Carnegie Hall: Miles Davis

Marking the imminent anniversary of the legendary concert, this week's Live from Carnegie Hall takes a look at Miles Davis's 1961 performance with his quintet and the Gil Evans Orchestra at the Hall.

Artist: Miles Davis
Album: Miles Davis Live at Carnegie Hall
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Date Recorded: May 19, 1961
Fun Fact: Though it's considered to be one of the essential Miles Davis recordings, Miles Davis Live at Carnegie Hall peaked at just no. 59 on the Billboard jazz album charts.

Despite a performing career that stretched from the 1940s through the early 1990s, trumpet legend Miles Davis appeared at Carnegie Hall fewer than 10 times. The concert on May 19, 1961—a benefit for the African Research Foundation—came in the middle of that run and saw Davis performing with a small combo that featured Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb along with the Gil Evans Orchestra—one of only two times they performed together. The set list that night was weighted towards his albums Miles Ahead (1957) and his then current release Sketches of Spain (1960).

Aside from the fact that Davis withdrew his permission to record the event at the last minute (which led to the concert being surreptitiously captured by producer Teo Macero), there was further incident on stage. As reported on, "[Drummer] Max Roach [who was not performing that night] displayed placards on stage denouncing the colonial character of the African Research Foundation. Miles left the stage. Persuaded to return, he showed his anger in the fire and blood he brought to 'Oleo' before gradually calming down for the grand finale of 'Concierto de Aranjuez.'"

The original 1962 Columbia/Legacy release contained only selected tracks from the concert. This was rectified when Sony released the complete concert on a double album in 1998.

Miles Davis performed at Carnegie Hall for the final time on February 15, 1975.

Live from Carnegie Hall Series
History of the Hall

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