Just before going on stage, Miles informed his companions that the quintet’s purse would go to three civil rights organizations supporting voter registration of Blacks in the South. The musicians contested this charitable gesture forced upon them. Miles, who liked to provoke his collaborators, never doubted that the concert’s intensity originated in the musicians’ negative feelings. This exceptional concert was released on two records: The first, in 1965, brought together the evening’s four ballads—pure transcendence from start to finish—along with “All Blues” (whose second introduction contains Miles’ most explicit reference to the first notes of his 80s’ hit “Jean Pierre”). But the two masterpieces on the record are “My Funny Valentine” and “Stella By Starlight,” two great instances of musical eroticism during which the melodies, harmonic frame, and tempos are simultaneously unveiled and disguised, to the point of inciting a cry of ecstasy—during the introduction to “Stella”—from someone in the first rows, who was none other than the singer Bab Gonzales.
Original issue: Columbia LP CS 9106 on February 23, 1965
Producer: Teo Macero
Engineer: Fred Plaut
Miles Davis (tpt); George Coleman (ts); Herbie Hancock (p); Ron Carter (b); Tony Williams (d)
Recorded live at Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC on February 12, 1964 at a benefit concert for voter registration in Mississippi and Louisiana sponsored by the NAACP Defense Fund, The Congress for Racial Equality, and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee