Another Unity (Mega Disc (J) MD 0122)A review from One Final Note:
Title: Another Unity
Label: Mega Disc (J) MD 0122
Number of Tracks: 6
Details: January 22, 1975
Note: Only tracks on which Davis is present are displayed below.
1. Funk (M. Davis) 21:13
2. Maiysha (M. Davis) 18:28
3. Ife (M. Davis) 18:28
4. Mtume (M. Davis) 3:59
5. Turnaroundphrase/Tune in 5 (M. Davis) 9:39
6. Untitled original 741106a (M. Davis) 9:52
Miles Davis (tpt, org); Sonny Fortune (ss, as, fl); Pete Cosey (g, perc); Reggie Lucas (g); Michael Henderson (el-b); Al Foster (d); James Mtume Foreman (cga, perc)
The fool’s-gold disk Another Unity turned out not to be the lost gospel of Miles, but just another concert document from another tour by a hardened corps of hard-working, creative musicians whose leader was ailing with multiple illnesses, mentally exhausted, and on more uppers ‘n’ downers than Rush Limbaugh riding The Thunderbolt at Coney Island. There’s a lot of rawness in the 1973 sets, which adds excitement to the already hyperactive brew, but what’s missing is the nuance and precision of the later concerts.By the time of the 1975 Japan tour, Miles had taught his ensemble to seemingly anticipate his thoughts and moods and directions, resulting in turn-on-a-dime changes of tempo, dynamics, and texture.Due to file size issues, I had to divide this recording into two separate Zip files. All sound files should fit comfortably on one CD. Download Another Unity (Pt. 1 & Pt. 2).
The first set mimics the first Agharta disc’s sequence of events, while the second recalls disc two of Pangaea, opening with “Ife”—only without Reggie Lucas’ fetching three-note guitar lick, and adding some far-out synthesizer yibbles from Pete Cosey. Then Miles pulls a fast one: After getting some fun out of “Ife”, he whips the band through an express-train medley of “Mtume”, “Turnaroundphrase”, and “Tune In 5”. Each clocks in at around five minutes—warp speed for this band to jump themes. “Turnaround” in particular is a proper horrorshow, with Lucas’ chainsaw-arm ripping staccato funk chords under Miles and saxist Sonny Fortune’s duet. Reggie Lucas hasn’t generated the cult status that his bandmate Cosey enjoys, which isn’t altogether fair. His rhythm work on all the live sessions plays a big part in whipping up the fervor, as well as adding an essential layer of color to Miles’ canvas. One can’t imagine the music without him. “Tune in 5” is overlaid with the riff from “Willie Nelson”, and Lucas grinds it out to introduce Fortune, who proceeds (badly amplified) with just synth, bass, and scattered percussion. Miles shakily offers a new riff, and an unidentified tune starts, described by bass and guitar harmonizing an 8th-note upandownphrase. This delightful bit chugs on for several minutes before the audience weighs in with a hurricane of handclaps.
At the end of this bootleg bout, we find the official concert recordings of the 1975 band—Agharta and Pangaea—still the champions of the electric Miles canon (they sport awesome covers, too). Simply put, those records are better recorded and better mixed (although no less than three different mixes on various CBS/Sony domestic and Japanese issues have been offered over the years, adding to the general confusion about this period). But the prime reason the official releases stand out is because the musicians knew that Columbia, in the person of Teo Macero, was rolling the tape, and that posterity might be standing in judgment someday. As Chris Murphy put it: “We had all worked hard on the Osaka recordings—Miles more than anyone—and had produced a great piece of art.”