Complete Bitches’ Brew
When Bitches’ Brew was first released in 1970, jazz purists believed Miles was turning his back on traditional jazz, and in effect, his early work. In retrospect, this statement has no validity, but at the time of its release, fans, critics, and even fellow musicians felt this way. Looking back, though, you can see the beginning of this transition, starting with his ’65 to ’68 Quintet. Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock were part of the quintet, and continued with Miles into the Bitches’ Brew sessions. Where he once dabbled with the quintet, he now immersed himself in it with Bitches’ Brew . Miles said that he was very interested in what Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and James Brown were doing at the time; he even had Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience play on some early demos for Bitches’ Brew . The most direct influences of jazz/rock were from Cannonball Adderly and the Tony Williams Experience (Williams was formerly the drummer of the Miles Quintet). Where Miles had been an early influence on innovative contemporary artists, they were now influencing him.
At the time, jazz had lost a major portion of its audience, especially the younger crowd. Miles wanted to breathe new life into jazz, instead of letting it stagnate (as it had begun to), by showing that jazz was much more than old Louis Armstrong records. Miles started incorporating electric piano and guitar into his music; this is why many regard this as the beginning of “fusion.” Others had mixed rock and jazz before, but none had made it so interwoven and indistinguishable before this. Bitches’ Brew is a jazz album that anyone who truly appreciates music can find some appreciation for.
Over a third of The Complete Bitches’ Brew is unreleased material. Every inch of tape that was recorded is in here. You don’t have to worry about the unreleased stuff being alternates or outtakes that Miles wouldn’t have wanted released; he erased everything that he didn’t want to keep. The first two CDs cover the majority of the original release, while the third and forth are composed of mostly unreleased tracks that are much more laid-back and groove-oriented than the previously released material. This gives the set a more well-rounded sound than the original version. The night I bought this, I played all four CD’s in a row. It wasn’t because I’m some hard-core jazz fan — it’s just that good.
Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave., 26th Floor, New York, NY 10022-3211