Fans of electric Miles rejoice! (That is to say, electric Miles 1969-75.) It’s About That Time chronicles two sets of Miles Davis’ sextet opening for (of all people) Steve Miller Band and Neil Young one night in March 1970 (believe it or not, grasshopper, there was a time when jazz AND rock acts could be on the same bill), shortly before his legendary album Bitches Brew (the jazz counterpart to Sgt. Pepper) was sprung on the world.
Right off the bat: some of the audiophiliacs out there might be a tad put-off by the recording quality. So it’s a bit "rough" and (refreshingly!) raw by today’s digital standards - but the music is so HOT it scarcely matters. In some ways, this was Miles’ "garage band," all tuff, pugnacious, audacious and defiantly confident, just like the 60s rock garage bands, so the recording quality actually enhances and compliments the music. Here, Miles plays some of the most inspiring, blistering trumpet playing, and you get to hear what would soon become a rare occurrence in his performances: unison-playing with his band’s other horn. Chick Corea’s electric piano is often possessed by such delightful distortion that it almost sounds like a guitar. Everyone, especially Corea, plays with the fervor and abandon of those who have peered into The Abyss and pulled away at the last moment.
The "swing" of Miles’ earlier groups has metamorphosed into deep funk grooves, descended from Sly Stone and James Brown, yet "swing" is still there, more implicit than explicit, at the heart of the music, spiced liberally with ebullient polyrhythms. The group presents several pieces that would appear on BB: "Spanish Key," "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" - as well as Miles-classics, like "Masquelero" and a tune that would not see official release until the 1980 album Directions, "Willie Nelson." This is truly ELECTRIC music, and not just because of some of the instrumentation - Miles and company sound WIRED, supercharged, as if plugged into some common power source. The seeds of what Miles Davis - along with jazz, rock, free-improvised music, dub and more - would become in 70s and beyond are contained in this package. It’s About That Time is one of the most important cultural events of 2001 - no home should be without one.