Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Miles Davis Big Fun album cover
4.27 | 141 ratings | 7 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (73:47)
1. Great Expectations / Orange Lady (27:23)
2. Ife (21:34)
3. Recollections (18:55) *
4. Trevere (5:55) *

CD 2 (68:37)
5. Go Ahead John (28:27)
6. Lonely Fire (21:21)
7. The Little Blue Frog (9:10) *
8. Yaphet (9:39) *

Total Time 142:24

* Bonus tracks on 2000 Columbia remaster, not on original LP

Line-up / Musicians

- Miles Davis / trumpet (1,3-8), electric trumpet with wah wah (2)

- Steve Grossman / soprano saxophone (1,4,5,7,8)
- Sonny Fortune / soprano saxophone & flute (2)
- Carlos Garnett / soprano saxophone (2)
- Wayne Shorter / tenor saxophone (3,6)
- Bennie Maupin / bass clarinet (1,3,4,6-8), clarinet & flute (2)
- John McLaughlin / electric guitar (1,3,5,7,8)
- Khalil Balakrishna / electric sitar (1,4,6-8), Indian instruments (6)
- Herbie Hancock / electric piano (1,8)
- Chick Corea / electric piano (1,3,4,6-8)
- Lonnie Liston Smith / electric piano (2)
- Harold I. Williams, Jr. / electric piano (2)
- Joe Zawinul / electric piano (3,6), Farfisa organ (6)
- Larry Young / organ & celeste (4,7)
- Ron Carter / double bass (1,8)
- Harvey Brooks / Fender bass (1,4,6-8)
- Michael Henderson / electric bass (2
- Dave Holland / electric bass (3,5), double bass (4,6,7)
- Billy Cobham / drums (1,4,6-8), triangle (3,8)
- Al Foster / drums (2)
- Billy Hart / drums (2)
- Jack DeJohnette / drums (3-7)
- Airto Moreira / percussion (1,3,6), cuica (3,4,7,8), berimbau (4,7,8), Indian instruments (6)
- Badal Roy / tabla (2)
- James Mtume / African percussion (2)
- Bihari Sharima / tamboura (1,4,7,8), tabla (1,8)

Releases information

Compiled from several recording sessions between 1969 and 1972

Artwork: Corky McCoy

2xLP Columbia ‎- PG 32866 (1974, US)

2xCD CBS ‎- A2 21398 (1987, US) Remastered by Seth Foster
2xCD Columbia ‎- C2K 63973 (2000, US) Remastered by Seth Foster w/ 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to rocktopus for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy MILES DAVIS Big Fun Music

MILES DAVIS Big Fun ratings distribution

(141 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MILES DAVIS Big Fun reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by darkshade
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is Big Fun. The first Miles Davis album I bought. This one always gets me. I love the Indian music influence. This is some of the most serious jazz-rock I've ever heard. It's haunting, it's funky, it's mystical, it's quite energetic, especially when Billy Cobham's behind the set. Not to mention looking at the personnel will make your head implode, as so many Miles Davis albums do. If you're even remotely familiar with jazz-rock/fusion, or jazz in general, you will have heard of at least 3-4 of the names besides Davis; maybe more. This is a must hear for any jazz fusion fan. It's a shame it was not released when it was supposed to be, not long after Bitches Brew. Instead it came out a few years later, and is not mentioned as much for some reason. When I was deciding which Miles Davis album to buy first, it was tough. I then saw the cover for this album, and I did not know this album existed before that moment. I saw the title Big Fun and picked it up immediately. I don't know why, but i basically bought the album because of the title, which I dont really do often. It was a great decision, because I was into jazz-rock for a while before I decided to check out Miles Davis' music. I had heard a few songs, but not much, and most of them were his jazz songs. I think this was a great first album to check out. It's a long album (2 discs, but a lot of his 70s albums are), but you dont even realize it, and you'll be taken in by the music.

I love the sitar and percussion work a lot. Miles Davis always had a great percussion section during this time.

Great Expectations is EPIC!!!! A 27 minute opus. It is haunting, yet intriguing. It is like a long journey, filled with danger and adventure. The middle is dark, reminds me of the night. The melody is great. The next section is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard. Listening to this is so great. The melody from before returns. This an epic song, the only way I can describe it.

Ife is great on here. When this one is played live, it's a little different. Here the Rhythms between the bass and drums constantly switches and makes for a serious jazz-fusion song.

Recollections and Trevere remind me a little of Bitches Brew, but with more Indian influence. Great melodies throughout.

Disc 2 is very good as well. It opens with Go Ahead John. This song is so dark and mysterious! The band hangs on a vamp while Miles does his thing for a while. I love the line-up for this track, consisting of Miles Davis Steve Grossman on soprano saxophone, John McLaughlin on guitar, Dave Holland on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. This should have been a touring lineup! McLaughlin's guitar sounds fantastic, with some weird effect on it.

Lonely Fire, The Little Blue Frog, and Yaphet are all very mystical, Indian-influenced jazz-fusion workouts, with a heavy emphasis on the sitar and Indian percussion. I love this sound a lot. Bennie Maupin plays a lot of good stuff.

I recommend this album to anyone who loves jazz-fusion, or is interested in checking out Miles Davis. I would say this is a good one to start, it worked for me. The title definitely works for the music within. Check this out, I think this is one (of many) Miles Davis masterpieces.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Big Fun is one of the best psychedelic records ever recorded in any genre, and as far as production goes, probably Miles' most creative album, and it is topped only by his Get Up With It album when it comes to creativity in composition. The music on here is a blend of rock, world beat, fusion and spaced out ambience all treated to classic early 70s psychedelic production including sitars, tambouras, tape- loop echoes and early analog synthesizers. A wide variety of ensembles appear on these cuts that were recorded between 69 and 72, but the different tracks all hang together as a congruous whole due to the similar production that each song receives. On the original double LP version I own, one song takes up each of the four sides.

Side one consists of the best cut on the album, Great Expectations, a three part sound suite that is one of Miles' most original compositional structures. The song opens with a subtle psychedelic groove that is driven by McLaughlin's echo wah-wah guitar plus tambora and woodblocks. Over this groove Miles and Bennie Maupin play a mournful, almost Gregorian melody till they purposefully hit a sour note and the groove dies only to start up again and Miles and Bennie come back with the same tune, the same sour note and so on, repeating this sequence of events till the built up tension is almost palapable. This sort of almost frustrating tension and release was becoming a big part of Miles' 70s compositional technique. The second part of this song is a beautiful slow melody that sounds like a morning prayer from some unknown culture. Miles' breathtaking patience in delivering each note is backed by an ambient orchestra of shining electric pianos and buzzing tambouras. Finally we get to the third part, an uplifting but mellow world beat groove that is a positive affirmation after all the dark mystery of the first two sections.

Side two is made up of Ife, a more typical Davis type jam that has Michael Henderson repeating a stop- start bass line similar to a lot of the odd grooves on On the Corner. Fortunately this repeating bass line is very infectious so the song does not get boring as Davis and his band go through a fast version of the line, to a much slower version after an ambient break. During the slow part all the psychedelic ambience builds to the point of almost totally burying the bass and drums.

Go Ahead John takes up side three and shows the band back on a more experimental tip. This side opens with Dejohnette playing a strange start-stop avant-funk beat in both the left and right channels. It sounds like the producer took two takes of the same track and then staggered them so that the drum phrases constantly overlap. The overall effect of this layered drum beat is fascinating. After Miles plays a decent solo McLaughlin comes in with a double-tracked ultra distorted guitar solo that shows a side of McLaughlin that we don't hear often anymore. This is the totally rockin McLaughlin who plays long fuzzed out note bends and sounds like he is having a blast doing it. While McLaughlin's two guitars battle it out, the producers cut the sound of each guitar track off and on producing the effect of a speaker cutting out. It is a weird effect that had many people checking their speaker connections back in the early 70s. After a brief sax solo everything stops and Miles comes in with a doubled tracked ambient trumpet melody that eventually morphs into an avant dissonant spaced out blues based jam. Eventually the opening drum parts return and this side has become a complete sound cycle.

The album closes with Lonely Fire, another one of Miles' unique and almost ancient sounding melodies that is played with only ambient backing for a long time before finally settling into a relaxed medium world beat/rock groove. This melody is nice, but after so many repetitions finally gets a little old after awhile. This side isn't bad, just not as good as the other three.

This album was made when Miles was trying to play music that moved beyond the confines of either rock, jazz or any combination of the two. His compositional experiments along these lines would finally hit their apex on Get Up With It. If there is any drawback to Big Fun it is the fact that this is very 70s music that came out when people tended to listen to music in a more meditative state. A lot of the music on here develops at a slow and purposeful pace that may be at odds with the constant distractions of today's world.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars After the success of "Bitches Brew" Miles spent a lot of time in the studio trying different things and this album is evidence of that. Of the four side long tracks 2 of them ("Great Expectations" and "Lonely Fire") were recorded around the same time, some 3 months after "Bitches Brew". "Ife" was recorded after the "On The Corner" sessions and has that vibe to it while "Go Ahead John" is connected to "A Tribute To Jack Johnson". So we get different lineups for these tracks from different time periods, all over 20 minutes in length. There's some excellent words in the liner notes by none other than Bennie Maupin.

"Go Ahead John" seems to trip along for the most part with DeJohnette impressing me the most early in the song. "Lonely Fire" is sparse to say the least. Some Indian instruments in this one as well as "Great Expectations" which was recorded around the same time(10 days apart in November of 1969). I was glad to see Zawinul and Corea on electric piano on "Lonely Fire", as well as Cobham and DeJohnette on drums. "Great Expectations" is by far the best track with Corea and Hancock on electric piano, Cobham on drums, Brooks and Carter on bass, McLaughlin on guitar and Davis, Grossman and Maupin on horns. Percussion is important and Moreira takes care of that. Great track ! "Ife" is such a good tune as well with all these sounds coming and going, and Henderson on bass really adds to the rhythm of this song which is it's strength.

The first disc is easily 4.5 stars while the second disc i'd rate at an even 4 stars. One of Miles best studio recordings right here.

Review by stefro
5 stars Miles Davis' 1969-1975 'electric' period may best be summed up by the brilliant 'Bitches Brew' album, but, together with this 1974 release and a handful of other furiously-experimental studio-and-live-albums from the period - 'In A Silent Way', 'Jack Johnson' and 'On The Corner' to name a few - you have the absolute apex of the jazz-fusion genre. 'Big Fun' features a stellar cast of musicians, with Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Josef Zawinul, Dave Holland, Bernie Maupin, Steve Grossman and Larry Young just a few of the names that helped Davis shape and craft this beautifully-constructed jazz-rock odyssey, and, the level of musicianship is, at times, mind-blowing in it's improvisational brilliance. A plethora of strange sounds, rhythms and melodies eminate from a richly-textured set of rock-tinged fusion soundscapes, with electric sitars, bubbling synths, exotic percussion and Miles trademark wah-wah trumpet constructing a sonic tapestry of sounds that journey far into outer-regions of as yet un-charted 'rock' territory. The gorgeous, Indian-flecked ethnic-fusion psychedelia of 'Great Expectations' shows just how eclectic Miles pallette has become, with the material on 'Big Fun' experimenting with both faster, rock-funk orientated numbers and slower, more serene pieces. This intense trail-blazing would eventually cut a path for a group of highly-talented fusion followers to make their Miles-inspired mark. John McLaughlin would form the energetic Mahavishnu Orchestra and produce two superb albums with 'Inner Mounting Flame' and 'Birds Of Fire'.Chick Corea would give us Return To Forever, whilst, across the Atlantic ocean the likes of Soft Machine and Nucleus would brew up their own anglicised sounds, with the former progressing from Psychedelic pop into full-blown jazz-fusion group in just a few short years. 'Big Fun' was, in his own way, Miles Davis acknowledging these inspired new groups and revealing the extent of the possibilities on offer for such free-thinking musicians, of which he was the leader. This 1974 release is a key part of this latter-period of Miles incredible career, building upon the mystical-jazz sounds of 'In A Silent Way' with stylistic nods to both James Brown's funk and the juddering guitars of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. However, with 'Big Fun', the journey became more infused with the exotic sounds of the east and west coast psychedelia. Once again the formula was expanded and, once again, the results were wonderful. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This is an album I long ignored, not exactly involuntarily, partly because I associated it more to On The Corner (which not my fave Miles), mainly because of the artwork and the release date. But I became aware of the misleading release time of 73, when almost all of the sessions took place before, during and after the Bitches Brew sessions (between Nov 69 and March 70) but with two Indian instrumentalists invited, except for the track on side 2 (this is also valid for the bonus tracks of the remater), which strangely enough dates of June 72, which features a very different line-up, but stays sonically fairly close to the rest of Big Fun.

The 7-mins Great Expectations opens the double album, with more or less the Bitches Brew crowd, but features two Indian sitar players, which give it its own flavour, but it is much quieter than anything on that groundbreaking BB album. On this first compact disc of this set, the bonus track 17-mins Zawinul-piece is a bit reminiscent of Silent Way, while the 6- mins Trevere is obviously from the same Expectations sessions, with the two Indian guests. As for the afore-mentioned 21-mins Ife track recorded in June 72, filling side B, only Bennie Maupin played on BB, but the piano is played by Lonnie Liston-Smith, who would released an outstanding Astral Travelling album the following year, in a more cosmic-jazz- rock vein, but well in the line of Ife.

The second disc opens up on the Davis-penned Go Ahead John, where he coaxes McL to go forward and assert himself, not only on this track, but to become a band leader, which he will do with Mahavishnu Orchestra. But here, although exuding more energy than the previous disc, something that can be said of its flipside companion piece Lonely Fire as well. Both bonus tracks are also within the boundaries drawn by the original album pieces.

While still an excellent studio release of Miles, Big Fun is a fairly quiet and low-key affair, lacking Bitches Brew's energy and inventive force, but I'm not sure that calling that name was all that wise, because I don't think that it is all that fun, and certainly not more so than the BB or JJ albums. It still remains an excellent double album, which is definitely worth acquiring in your second phase of explorations of Miles' electric music realm. It's also an excellent deal since the bonus tracks are plenty and rather meaty and in line of Big Fun's direction.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars You want s'more crazy good electric Miles? This may be better than even Bitches Brew!

These pieces of work were released in 1973 although most of the recording took place in 69 and 70 which was an amazing time for jazz music. To me, bringing the electric instrumentation into jazz was one of the greatest things that could happen to modern music and this album is one of the great reasons why.

The overall feel of this album is sheer beauty, Miles trumpet playing over electric guitar and various other noises and as simple as it sounds, you get a really amazing sound from it.

The greatest tracks are the ones McLaughlin plays on, (although their really isn't a weak track on the album) his presence really electrifies (pun intended) the albums power as a piece of music.

But Miles on the trumpet, man... You cannot find a better trumpeteer. Anywhere. He is one of the greatest musicians to every lay his hand on an instrument and when he had this psychedelic shift, his work became true pieces of art.

For fans of Bitches Brew and Get Up With It, five stars in my book.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The shortest route across the electric metamorphosis of Miles Davis in the 1970s is through his many live albums from the era (the unedited concerts; not the scissor-mad hybrids of "Live-Evil" or "Live at Fillmore"). His studio output after "Bitches Brew" was often erratic, and released in too fitful a manner, with cuts recorded years apart forced onto belated albums or spread throughout different compilations.

Albums like "Big Fun", or its equally schizoid 1974 companion "Get Up With It", should rightly be considered compilations. But the former title in particular (both the original vinyl and the expanded compact disc edition) shows a remarkable uniformity in mood and emotion for a collection of music spanning three tumultuous years, and culled from sessions for albums as divergent as "Bitched Brew", "Jack Johnson", and "On the Corner". If you approach it with no awareness of the sporadic recording details (and there's really no reason why you need to be aware of them) "Big Fun" stands as one of the trumpet player's more haunting and mysterious efforts, making even the enigmatic grooves of "Bitches Brew" sound almost conventional by comparison.

The emphasis is often on mood and texture instead of rhythm or melody. And the straightjacket of time has even less meaning here than it did in the notoriously protracted "Brew" sessions. The original LP included only four tracks, each one filling an entire side of vinyl, and in two cases pushing the limits of analog storage toward the half-hour mark. A dreamlike weirdness abounds throughout, from the hypnotic minimalist funk of "Great Expectations" to the bizarre, misaligned double-tracking of drums and guitar in the propulsive "Go Ahead John" (the unedited tapes can be heard in "The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions", and sound even better when stripped of their razzle-dazzle studio camouflage). The soothing "Recollections" is a clear offspring of "In A Silent Way" (both were composed by pianist Joe Zawinul), and the addition of sitars, tablas and tambouras adds an exotic undercurrent to some already alien soundscapes.

It's too bad this album wasn't released immediately following the success of "Bitches Brew"; its influence might have been equally as profound, if a little more complex. The sessions for both were more or less contiguous, but some of the music here had to wait almost half a decade before seeing daylight. In a literal sense, this was an album ahead of its time.

Latest members reviews

No review or rating for the moment | Submit a review

Post a review of MILES DAVIS "Big Fun"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.