Tag Archives: Mati Klarwein

Miles At The Fillmore: outstanding box set, underwhelming cover art

Miles Davis 1970 The Bootleg Series Vol 3

Miles At The Fillmore album cover

Lovers of jazz-rock fusion are showering praise on Miles At The Fillmore.

Rightly so – the new box set is high quality Miles Davis music, recorded live in his ground-breaking Bitches Brew period, when he was fully endorsing jazz-rock for the first time.

Miles At The Fillmore: Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol 3 presents the full sets of the Miles Davis shows over his four-night residency at the New York East Village venue, on four CDs.

The Fillmore East gigs thus get a public airing for first time. Until now, fans have had to settle for a double CD, Miles Davis At Fillmore, an enjoyable but ultimately frustrating, truncated summary version of the shows.

The music on the new release, Miles At The Fillmore, is incandescent – jazz-rock fusion at its early peak. And the digipak box is a sumptuous artefact, especially at such a bargain price – about £16 on Amazon.

Miles Davis The Bootleg Series Vol 3

Miles At The Fillmore package

Apart from the discs, Miles At The Fillmore features four evocative photographs of Miles and his band in full flow, on the digipak housing, plus a splendid booklet and a poster, with contemporary reviews on the reverse.

Negatives? Well, I find the front cover to be rather underwhelming. Passing up the opportunity to front the package with a shot of Miles Davis at his most photogenic, Columbia Legacy have used an abstract photograph, instead.

Engaging, yes. Colourful, ditto. Well executed, certainly. But, to my eyes, a lost opportunity. It reminds me of an image used in press advertising a few years ago for Canon PIXMA printers.

Compare it with the cover art for Bitches Brew, the studio album which supplied the music played on Miles At The Fillmore, featuring exquisite artwork by Mati Klarwein. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison – the Bitches Brew cover art is among the finest of the rock era.

Bitches Brew artwork

Bitches Brew – exquisite cover art by Mati Klarwein, (c) Sony Music 1970

Columbia Legacy are assiduous, often inspired, curators of the heritage of Miles Davis (and that of Bob Dylan). The label’s releases are routinely outstanding, usually with class-leading packaging housing must-have music. So I’m a little puzzled by the cover art of Miles At The Fillmore: Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol 3.

If you have a more positive reaction to the cover artwork of the new Miles Davis release, I’d love to publish it in the Comments section.