By Chris M. Junior
For many jazz fans, Miles Davis epitomizes cool and good taste.
Almost 20 years after his death, the trumpet legend remains cool and classy – and also in the public eye, thanks in large part to proactive family members who are behind a treasure chest of Davis-related projects scheduled for 2010 and beyond.
“We really, tastefully, want to keep his name and music [out there],” says drummer/producer Vince Wilburn Jr., a Davis nephew who oversees Miles Davis Properties with Erin and Cheryl Davis, the late jazz great’s son and daughter, respectively. “We turn down 95 percent of the things that come to us. We selectively try to put out great things.”
There is no shortage of great Davis reissues coming out this year. The slate includes two expanded 40th anniversary editions of “Bitches Brew,” an album that’s often cited as the birth of jazz-rock fusion.
Davis, though, wasn’t one for categorizing his work.
“He didn’t really like any labels on the music,” Erin Davis says. “He just wanted to be in the broad spectrum of music.”
Featuring lengthy songs and such fellow jazz legends as Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea, among others, “Bitches Brew” not only was a notable and wide-ranging album in Miles Davis’ career but also one that has influenced musicians from various eras and genres.
The new reissues, due Aug. 31 from Columbia/Legacy, are packed with extras. “Bitches Brew: Legacy Edition” will include two CDs containing the original album’s songs in their original eight-track studio mixes, along with bonus tracks. Also included is a DVD of a previously unreleased concert performance by the Miles Davis Quintet from November 1969.
“Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” contains the aforementioned CDs and DVD, plus a CD of a previously unreleased Davis concert performance from August 1970.
Wilburn and Erin Davis are pleased with the quality of the footage on the DVD.
“It’s killer,” Wilburn says. “That was one of my favorite bands anyway. People should see this; it changed the course of music.”