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Miles Davis - Bitches Brew CD (album) cover

BITCHES BREW

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.24 | 368 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Here it is, that odd bastard child of Ornette Coleman and The Grateful Dead that ended up being called Bitches Brew. Whereas jazzers like Coltrane and Albert Ayler, and rockers like The Cream and Hendrix took an aggressive approach to improvisation, Ornette and the Dead were more relaxed in a rural sort of way. This album, with it's meandering interacting semi-solos has a strong resemblance to a Dead live concert, but with the freer jazz approach of Ornette.

It's no mystery why this album is more popular than some of Miles' more focused and better composed albums such as Get Up With It, Agharta and Big Fun, from the beginning this album was all about promotion and making big bucks for Columbia records. A lot of older jazz musicians hated this album before they even heard it because they saw all the 'rock star' hype that it received. Subsequently, the older jazzers still see almost all jazz fusion as an attempt to cash in, and often for good reason.

Despite the lack of composition and direction, the music on here is interesting because all the performers involved are so talented and great at interacting with one another. Corea and McLaughlin in particular are the glue that keeps this wandering jam on track. Another star is Bennie Maupin and his subtle, almost humorous contributions on bass clarinet, often sounding like that annoying friend who hums along with records at a volume that is barely audible.

Although Miles would later do full-blown hard rock music, the music on here is still closer to jazz, with the bass (basses) mixed low in volume and the drum beats often vague and abstract. Although brilliant in places, some of this music has not aged well. The song Sanctuary in particular seems overwrought in it's slow buildup to Miles' blasting trumpet notes. Also, other songs on here seem to meander forever, we certainly had a lot more patience and time on our hands back in the early 70s.

The songs that have aged best are Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, with it's relaxed semi-funk groove that foreshadows much of Miles' music in the mid-70s, and the song John McLaughlin, which hints at the weird futuristic African grooves on Get Up With It and On the Corner. Thanks to the contributions of the ultra- talented performers on this record, Miles' large group improv experiment 'lucked out' and he came up with a pretty good record, but stick around, within a year or two much better things would be on the way.

js (Easy Money) | 4/5 |

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