Miles Davis: Bitches Brew

Track

Bitches Brew

Artist

Miles Davis (trumpet)

CD

Bitches Brew (Columbia 40577)

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Musicians:

Miles Davis (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (soprano sax), Lenny White (drums), Bennie Maupin (bass clarinet), Chick Corea (electric piano), Jack DeJohnette (drums), John McLaughlin (electric guitar), Dave Holland (bass), Joe Zawinul (electric piano),

Jim Riley [aka Jumma Santos] (percussion), Harvey Brooks (Fender bass), Don Alias (drums)

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Composed by Miles Davis

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Recorded: New York, August 19, 1969

Albumcovermilesbitchesbrew

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

We are all familiar with revolutions in music. But the most controversial moves come when an artist seems in rebellion against his own past work. When Bob Dylan embraced the electric guitar, when Copland turned to serialism, when Michael Jackson became white, and when Miles Davis recorded Bitches Brew -- these were more than experiments, but rather earthshaking choices that incited passions, divided loyal fans, and even forced onlookers to reconsider their most basic assumptions about the musician in question.

Miles had made radical changes in style before. He went from hot to cool, from chords to modes, from Miles Ahead to Nefertiti, from nicely tailored suits to outfits from outer space. But nothing compared to Bitches Brew. Everything here was big and brash, from the album cover to the humongous rhythm section (as large as his entire nonet from Birth of the Cool). Even the song lengths grow to gargantuan proportions. The title track, "Bitches Brew," clocks in at twenty-seven minutes.

Some accused Miles of selling out, but this music defies every rule of how to make a hit. Instead of three-minute tunes with catchy melodies, Miles tosses out murky torrents of sound, waves of electric turbulence that force the listener to adapt to the demands of the Brew. Yet this LP did sell -- an extraordinary half million copies. And at the close of the 1960s, when so many great jazz recordings were being made, none of them exerted an influence as pervasive or long-lasting as this historic release. Decades have passed and we are still reeling from its impact.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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