Today on Blogcritics
Home » Music » Music Review: Miles Davis – Bitches Brew Live

Music Review: Miles Davis – Bitches Brew Live

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

For Miles Davis fans, this disc is a revelation. It contains nine tracks from two concerts recorded during his landmark Bitches Brew era. The first three are previously unreleased and hail from the Newport Jazz festival in 1969. The final six come from his appearance at the Isle Of Wight festival in 1970.

In 1969, the Newport festival bowed to the inevitable and invited a number of rock acts, including Led Zeppelin and Sly & The Family Stone. Davis appeared with Chick Corea (electric piano), Jack DeJohnette (drums), and Dave Holland (bass).

They open with a ten-minute version of “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down,” giving the lie to the accepted wisdom that Bitches Brew was improvised in the studio. Obviously the pieces were works in progress. From there the quartet perform a four-minute version of “Sanctuary.”

The final Newport entry is “It’s About That Time” from In A Silent Way, which had just been released. This ten-minute take is a pretty interesting glimpse of how Davis translated a song onstage. The group close with what was still Davis’ trademark set-ender, “The Theme.”

This quartet was joined by Gary Bartz (saxophones), Keith Jarrett (organ) and Airto Moreira (percussion) at the Isle Of Wight in 1970. Davis’ group was the only jazz ensemble at the Isle, and it is estimated that the crowd they played to was around 600,000.

Bitches Brew had been issued four months prior to the appearance, and was a sensation. The seven-piece group roar with the power of The Who or Jimi Hendrix who also appeared at the festival. Miles opens with Joe Zawinul’s “Directions,” which did not make the cut for In A Silent Way, but was played often during this time.

Ten minutes of “Bitches Brew” follows, and at this point the group had completely locked into the groove. From there, they hit “It’s About That Time,” and the difference from Newport is telling. This track just overflows with intensity, especially towards the end. Corea and Jarrett were placed on opposite sides of the stage, wailing as if their very lives depended on it.

We go back to Brew for a quick one-minute reminder of “Sanctuary,” then an eight-minute version of the great “Spanish Key.” This is another smoker. Finally, Miles cuts in with “The Theme” and the historic set has ended.

The Isle Of Wight material was previously released in a heavily edited 17-minute form in 1971, on The First Great Rock Festivals Of The Seventies: Isle Of Wight/Atlanta Pop Festival double LP. The first release of the full set came as part of Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection (2010). The 71-CD set was a little out of my price range, so this has been my first opportunity to hear any of this material.

For fans like me, Bitches Brew Live is a real eye-opener. It is full of incredible music that stood toe to toe with the best that the rock world had to offer. I consider this one to be essential.

Powered by

About Greg Barbrick

  • El Bicho

    will mos def be checking this one out

  • Greg Barbrick

    Awesome stuff Bicho!