Consumer Reports: Beyond Bitches Brew

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My work on the Bitches Brew book has hit fifth gear, which is good because it’s due at the end of the month! I have been, of course, listening to a ton of Miles Davis records, not just the music in and around Bitches Brew but what came before and after. The context of Miles’ whole body of work gives the album more meaning.

While there’s no music I can’t get sick of when exposed to it enough, that hasn’t happened so far with Miles. He was not just one of the greatest of all jazz musicians, but one of the great artists of the 20th century, and there is so much beauty and intelligence in his playing that I’m not sure if I will ever get sick of it.

In the course of listening, I’ve found two discographical items that have been around, in and out of circulation, but are new to me, Live in Vienna 1973 and San Francisco 1970. The years are important bookends in his electric period, just after Bitches Brew and then shortly before his enforced, temporary retirement.

With the Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 set that came out last year, there’s a lot of the 1970 gigs now available. This San Francisco—which had previously been available on Jazz Masters and Jazz Music Yesterdays releases, and is not included in the Sony box—expands on the Filmore sets with “Honky Tonk” and “Funky Tonk,” and Gary Bartz is in this band, and he was playing his ass off.

The only place to order the San Francisco reissue, expected next month, is through Amazon UK, and if you buy the Vienna set, you can get immediate mp3 download while you wait for the CD to make it’s way across the Atlantic.

Also in the category of immediate gratification, the Southern Lord label is have a sale at the bandcamp page, the “southernlordnewyearsale” code nets you 50% off.


Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.