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This is my favourite album of Miles Davis, very otherworldly and experimental for the time, I listen to a lot of music but this album is a real joy to come back around to, I also think highly of his Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue, (of course) but Bitches Brew has a very engaging atmosphere to immerse yourself in. Give it a spin I reckon.
Davis lasciò a Hendrix una sua partitura, con tempi, note, pause, accordi, ecc ecc, insomma una classica partitura. Quando Hendrix la trovò, rispose all’amico: “Non devi scrivermi note o accordi, io non li capisco… devi parlarmi di vento, fuoco, terra, acqua, cielo..”
Davis non cercava solo Hendrix, cercava una nuova strada, che purtroppo non poterono mai percorrere assieme.
Radunò, allora, una banda di giovani mostri e da buon artista visionario aprì questa sua nuova stagione. Album immortali e di riferimento, a partire da In A Silent Way, poi questo Bitches, il tributo a Jack Johnson (il mio preferito) e via…
E’ Jazz? Non è Jazz? Quando comprai, da ragazzo l’LP, pur avendo una discreta conoscenza del jazz, non mi posi certo la domanda. Non era importante. L’importante era imboccare questa nuova strada. Catalogare, specificare, anche se sembra indispensabile all’essere umano, a me non ha mai tolto il sonno: Garbarek sarà Jazz? e l’Art Ensemble? Dollar Brand? …in quale scaffale andranno mai messi?
Mio padre, cultore di lirica, ascoltava anche un po’ di Benny Goodman, Eddie Calvert, Glen Miller, e un giorno comprò un 45 che ho ancora: The Miles Davis Quintet - All of You sul lato A e The Jazz Messengers - It’s You or No One sul lato B (Philips 429 295 BE, per i cultori o collezionisti). Quando lo sentì rimase un pochino sconvolto: “Ma che razza di Jazz sarebbe questo?? Questo è Jazz??” e aggiunse: “Pensa che certo Jazz lo chiamano addirittura ‘cool’! Questo conferma la mia tesi: il Jazz vero è quello caldo, non quello freddo; quella è musica che non trasmette niente. E hanno il coraggio di chiamarla Jazz…”. Eroico papà! Chissà cosa avrebbe detto se avesse ascoltato Bitches Brew… Magari mi avrebbe confidato: “Questo non è Jazz, non è Miles Davis! Miles Davis è quello di All of You!”. Sentir discutere oggi (2018), su Bitches: “E’ Jazz? Non è Jazz?” fa anche un po’ tenerezza.
I'm not into jazz really. I made myself listen to this album coz jazz guys go on about how great this is. It's pretty abstract for me, there aren't any riffs to latch onto etc. It seems quite alien, but I persevered at listening to it and found myself enjoying the kind of relaxed style of making noise seemingly randomly! Of course these dudes are incredible musicians, which is why if you appreciate music, even if you think you don't like jazz, you should try this album out once, and then have another listen just to make sure!
If one was able to plot a path from (or interpolate between) Filles de Kilimanjaro and In A Silent Way (on the one hand) across to Jack Johnson (on the other), you might approximate to where Miles Davis was with this ground-breaking 1970 work. Certainly, John McLaughlin’s guitar, in particular, is given freer rein here (and his playing is moving in the general direction of the 'rockier’ Jack Johnson), but overall Bitches Brew is an altogether more expansive and diverse undertaking than the 'surrounding’ albums. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to imagine anyone other than a musician as open-minded as Davis who could conceive of such a project, melding the improvisational instincts of a band of upwards of a dozen musicians, and then (for some of the music here) editing various parts of the sessions to provide what comes across as a seamless whole. In terms of inspiring 'new music’ and, in many cases, 'new’ (or at least, relatively inexperienced) musicians – something for which Davis was renowned – Bitches Brew is a match for all the man’s legendary other band collaborations (with the likes Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller, etc).
Davis’ horn, Shorter’s sax and McLaughlin’s guitar lead the way, but the three-pronged keyboard backing from Joe Zawinal, Chick Corea and Larry Young, plus the haunting bass clarinet of Bernie Maupin are equally defining sounds for the album. Whether it be the stunning staccato playing by Davis on the album’s title track, the driving rhythm of Spanish Key, the emergent funk influence of (for me, a particular highlight) Miles Runs The Voodoo Down or the brilliant use of punctuation, space and pacing in each of Sanctuary and Feio (the latter featuring some remarkable use of the cuica drum by Airto Moreira), Bitches Brew is an album whose appeal and hidden qualities continue to be revealed over time.
Well it's just quite an extraordinary double album. Miles going beyond conventional jazz into psychedelic, electronic mystery. I have to say that at first listen I missed it, then I came back to it and eventually I got it or it got me. It reminds me of one of those magic eye pictures that only reveals itself when we look at it in a certain way; this only reveals itself when we listen but without as much preconception. Just listen. As Miles say's almost inaudibly, "keep it tight". Now I can't stop repeat listening. Wonderful, auditory psychonautical magic.
Such is the nature of this mind-blowing free-form album that I won't be doing a track by track synopsis by numbers, it just wouldn't tie in with the themes going on here. What IS going on here? If I knew that then Bitches Brew wouldn't be the intriguing voyage into the unknown it was then, and most definitely is now, 40 odd years down the line. Four songs, double album (originally)...Eh, how's that possible? Most casual music "lovers" would most likely run a country mile, or back to the oh so tried and tested verse/chorus/verse/chorus/middle/chorus blah-blah-blah you get my drift. I know several people who claim to love music, yet refuse to give instumentals a go, "How can you relate to a song if there's no lyrics?". Fair point, but wrong in my opinion.
This music has no boundaries, it's not shackled and straight-jacketed like "normal" music. Two full drum-kits get fairly hefty workouts in two opposing channels. Violent guitar slashes and frantic keyboard noodlings are all paying homage to Miles' out-there horn, the freakiest of horn blowers, the Jimi Hendriks of his domain. The musicians are just going for it balls to the wall. Clearly audible instructions getting dished out from the maestro himself to help with the more spontaneous, improvised moments. As I mentioned earlier, nit-picking at the tracks individually just won't cut the mustard here, it's all or nothing with this one. Whack it on and let it take you for the ride. It's a bumpy one no doubt, but one well worth enduring. First time I played it I was impressed, second time I was blown away. The best way to enjoy it is listen to it sparingly, it wouldn't be the type of thing you'd listen to EVERY day as it would start to lose some of it's charm. This album is also surprisingly versatile in it's enjoyment factor, insofar as you could be a purist and try pick out who's playing what, how they're playing it etc. Another avenue is background music, you could have this screaming in the background while you do the hoovering, and it'd work just as well (I know, Miles and hoovering, how cool am I?).
If you're of the open-minded type that likes to push your musical brain as much as possible into the unknown, please give this a go. I never even heard music like this until I took a stab in the dark. Also if you've already got it and want to upgrade to the Legacy Edition i'd say 100% get it as the extra stuff here is nothing short of gargantuan. If downing 8 pints down your local, sticking The Swedish House Mafia on the jukebox and throwing your arm around your mate's as far as you wanna go, avoid like the plague....but you've no idea what you're missing.
I had been almost frightened to listen to this by someone who let me borrow my first Miles albums. I needn't have been as it is just a natural progression form In a Silent Way and a lot more rock orientated. Love it and am still getting into it. (the more you listen the more you hear)