At the time, Miles Davis was under pressure from Columbia Records to broaden his appeal to the youth market. His sales, by jazz standards, were excellent, but Miles had a lavish lifestyle and his continual requests for financial advances forced new Columbia head, Clive Davis, to push Miles to open himself to newer, younger, record buying rockers. It was Clive who persuaded Miles to play the Fillmore (who initially refused, threatening to leave the label), but since Miles was already moving in that direction, and was developing a keen interest in the likes of Hendrix and Sly Stone, it was really only a matter of time. Still, no one was quite prepared for how far Miles would take the challenge. Enter Bitches Brew. A thousand essays have been written about it, so there’s not much that I’m about to add here, suffice to say that – in its day – it blew minds that had already been blown for years. These days, it might sound tame to newcomers, but in 1970, the jazz world had never heard anything like this raw fusion of jazz and rock. The original double album had only six selections (including the 27 minute title track), but what many didn’t know (I didn’t until a decade later) was that Bitches Brew was a cut and paste affair, artificially constructed from hours of recordings, by Miles and producer Teo Macero. The original didn’t leave my turntable for months, and my saint of a mother became increasingly concerned about my mental health. Hell… Davis’ fans didn’t even grasp it, so there was no way mom was going to catch the drift. This 4 disc box features the original release (the first six tracks on discs 1 & 2) and alternate sessions from the same period. There’s even an arresting 21 minute cover/outtake of David Crosby’s “Guinnevere.” A bunch of this material is previously unreleased, though some of it showed up on the subsequent releases, Big Fun and Circle In The Round. The legends list of players includes Jack DeJohnette, Joe Zawinul, Airto, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Lenny White, Larry Young and others. Due to constraints, we had to go with one of the shorter tracks for the player, below. You can still find the very cool, steel spine/cloth-covered box at Amazon (just beware of the really cheap used ones that might not actually be this box). Many thanks to Kwai Chang for the re-up.
Pharaoh’s Dance (20:07)
Bitches Brew (27:01)
Spanish Key (17:34)
John McLaughlin (4:23)
Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (14:04)
Great Expectations (13:48)
Orange Lady (13:52)
The Big Green Serpent (3:39)
The Little Blue Frog (Alt) (12:15)
The Little Blue Frog (Mst) (9:12)
Lonely Fire (21:11)
Double Image (8:28)
Take It Or Leave It (2:16)
Double Image (5:53)
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