The Miles-ophiles that dug the Prince of Darkness’ electric period will surely recall the name of Pete Cosey, who was one of the guitarists that was a regular in Miles Davis’ mid-70s bands (circa the albums Agharta, Get Up With It and Pangea). Where he’s been since I don’t know, except that he once "subbed" for Bill Frisell in the jazz power trio Power Tools. Now, Cosey has assembled a killer cast of characters to pay tribute to the still-somewhat-controversial electric period.
NYC’s Village Underground was the setting for Pete Cosey’s Children Of Agharta, which included saxophonists Gary Bartz and John Stubblefield, electric bassist Matt Rubano, drummer J.T. Lewis and Johnny "Juice" Rosado on turntables, plus a couple a poets/rappers/ramblers whose names I didn’t catch. Like Miles’ music of this period, the tapestries wove by these Children were heavily rhythmic and driving/driven they laid down thick slabs of psychedelic free-jazz funk with sinuous melodies that drew the crowd into a set of slippery grooves that would not quit. Cosey was a revelation this fellow who looked like a beatnik Burl Ives generated played some wildly inspired, fluid guitar playing that synthesized the influences of Jimi Hendrix (openness to the possibilities of sound), Sonny Sharrock (the "free" approach of Pharaoh Sanders on the electric guitar) and Eric Clapton (stinging tone and sustain) into a personal style that flew from the stratosphere into the ionosphere while maintaining a lifeline to the blues. Cosey even tipped his hat to his Chicago blues roots (he played guitar on a Howlin’ Wolf album on Chess in the 60s) by singing a mellow, gently misogynist blues song, assuring the ladies in the audience there was another version that slammed the "male side" of the equation. Bart and Stubblefield both wailed, the former in a singing, bittersweet hard-bop mode, the latter in a more pointed, piercing, rippling roar. Rubano and Lewis were the Kings Of Rhythm that night, keeping various grooves going but never rigid they weren’t a funk players trying play jazz, but jazz guys who had an undeniable feel for the funk. Rosado functioned both as a "rhythm" player, adding jabs, accents and flourishes to the matrix, other times as a counterpoint to Cosey. The crowd went wild, of course, and well they should have there was inspiration, perspiration and a general let-the-good-times-roll, hoist a drink to Miles spirit. I just hope this band makes it into a studio!