Monday, February 7, 2011

Miles Davis Live

Miles Davis (trumpet)
Bitches Brew Live (Columbia/Legacy; 2011)
Chick Corea (electric piano)
Jack DeJonette (drums)
Dave Holland (bass)
Gary Bartz (sax)
Keith Jarrett (organ)
Airto Moreira (percussion)

Well, its always easy to talk about Miles Davis here at JazzWrap, this week sees the release of another Miles Davis document--Bitches Brew Live (Columbia/Legacy). While there is a plethora of live Miles material out there, its probably pretty tough to decide what to get. There are definitely some excellent "unofficial" live albums available--particularly from the Lone Hill and Gambit labels which if you find them--buy them. But you should put Bitches Brew on your list of Miles albums to pick up because it ranks up there as one of the best Miles live albums out there "official" and "unofficial".

Bitches Brew Live contains two dates, one prior to the release of the seminal album and one during the following summer (July 1969 and August 1970). This set is different than last years Bitches Brew deluxe edition which included a live disc recorded in Copenhagen. Bitches Brew Live features material from the Newport Jazz Festival and the legendary Isle of Wight Festival. The Newport set only features a quartet including Chick Corea (electric piano), Dave Holland (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums). Wayne Shorter (sax) was supposed to make up a quintet but according to the story he was stuck in traffic on the way to gig.

The performance here is incredible to hear with just Miles as the horn sections along with funky, swirling and psychedelic rhythm section. They plow through a brief ten minute version of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" in addition to the "Sanctuary," and "Its About Time", all with fierce accuracy. This was only a few weeks before Miles would go into the studio with his full twelve piece ensemble to record the groundbreaking album.

The second set recorded in the following summer after the release features that ensemble. This was kind of like Dylan going electric. While Miles had already starting thinking and utilizing electric in his performances this was sort of the coming out party that would make the ultimate statement to his current and new found audiences. Right from the start with "Directions" and "Bitches Brew" Miles and company get to the point that this was going to be a funky, raucous and adventurous affair. This version of "Bitches Brew" flows through some lovely Far East spiritual moments midway through that for me make it one of the highlights of that touring period. "Spanish Key" was always a soulful piece but the solo work from Gary Bartz on sax and how he leads the group is unbelievable. This becomes full throttle when Miles joins back in towards the end.

The rock influence shows definitely explodes during this concert and that makes Bitches Brew Live well worth picking up. Unlike the later live albums Miles would record during the 70s this year of show is probably the most focused and cohesive even for the non-Miles-fusion era fan. A real treat for everyone listening.

Further Recommended Miles Live Albums

Live at Pasadena Civic Auditorium '56 (second disc of Round Midnight deluxe edition on Columbia/Legacy)
Live In Stockholm '60 (With Sonny Stitt and John Coltrane on Dragon Records)
At Carnegie Hall '61 (Columbia/Legacy)
Live In Berlin '64 (Columbia/Legacy)
Winter In Europe '67 (Gambit)
In Concert at Philharmonic Hall '72 (Columbia/Legacy)
Agharta '75 (Columbia/Legacy)
Live In Poland '83 (Gambit)
Live At Montreux ,91 (Warners)

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