Album review of Miles Davis’ ‘Bitches Brew Live’

Miles Davis
“Bitches Brew Live”
Columbia/Legacy (88697 81485 2)
Grade: ****

By Gillian G. Gaar

Miles Davis’ classic “Bitches Brew” album was just reissued last year with some nice bonus material. This new release features two live sets that draws on numbers from the album, both before and after its original release in April 1970.

Miles Davis Bitches Brew LiveThe first four numbers are from a previously unreleased 1969 performance at the Newport Jazz Festival. The music of “Bitches Brew” was rooted in jazz, but had a decided rock edge that was also influenced by the psychedelic rock of the late ‘60s. This is immediately apparent in the wild vamping of the opening “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down,” as Davis and keyboardist Chick Corea try and out do each other on their respective instruments, with drummer Jack DeJohnette pushing the musicians on. The number segues naturally into the slower paced, dreamy “Sanctuary,” and “It’s About That Time/The Theme.” The latter is a nervy, hyped up number that has Davis and Corea jousting once again, Davis showing particular confidence in his solos.

The rest of the album is filled out by a set from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, first released in its entirety as part of the 2009 set “Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection.” It’s a fine performance that stretches musical boundaries even further; a jazz/rock/funk/avant garde blend that constantly surprises. The set doesn’t end as much as implodes, Davis’ trumpet bowing out, leaving the other instruments to burn themselves out until there’s nothing left but a musical shimmering that has the audience cheering even before the final notes have died away.

 

 

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