Honoring Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew on its 40th Anniversary

miles davis bitches brew 40th anniversary
Don Cheadle, Jeremy Sole, Henry Rollins, Maggie Lepique, Bennie Maupin, Vince Wilburn, Jr., and Erin Davis discuss Bitches Brew on its 40th anniversary at the GRAMMY Museum. Photo: Earl Gibson.

When Bitches Brew came out in 1970, the critics were split and many fans were turned off to hear Miles Davis turn toward a definitively more electric sound. But it became Davis’ first gold record — probably because so many people just had to hear it for themselves.

Bitches not only marked a major turning point in Miles Davis’ sound but also laid the foundation for the jazz-rock “fusion” sound to come while featuring grooves and sequences that would inspire the hip-hop generation. It’s 40th anniversary is an ideal time to honor the record and Sony and the Davis family have done just that, capped by last week’s panel at the GRAMMY Museum and Sony Legacy’s release of a deluxe edition featuring a bonus DVD of the group performing in Copenhagen a couple months after the recording sessions (see a clip from it below).

The 40th Anniversary of Bitches Brew has been celebrated in many ways including last month’s remix performance featuring J-Rocc at Sunset Junction and Dogfish Head Brewery even released its own special edition Bitches Brew.

Continue reading “Honoring Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew on its 40th Anniversary”

From the Archives: Chicago Jazz Scene, Turn of the Century

poster from 2nd Jazz and Improvised fest at Empty Bottle Chicago 1998It’s often dawned on me that my early scribblings on the web may someday disappear without a trace yet I continuously forget to archive said posts — for posterity if nothing else. Well today I listened to this blistering set from last week’s Newport Jazz Festival and was transported to ten years ago, Empty Bottle, Tuesday night Vandermark Five sessions and the frenetic rhythm from the band set up living room style disrupting the magic in the air. Love how that sound pumps through my veins and so does the rest of the world.

Ken Vandermark continues blazing trails across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East while basing himself in Chicago with many of the same cats. I keep up with Ken via his daily Twitter and Facebook updates which highlight the daily undertakings of a creative troubadour in brief, diary-like entries. I still subscribe to the chi-improv Yahoo! group for sentiment. Little has changed in Chicago I imagine — although my visits are too rare. (Save for the tragic death of Malachi Ritscher and the recent passing of Fred Anderson). Still a few active venues and occasional improv backrooms shifted throughout the town and Peter Brötzmann, Ab Baars and the finest European improvisers still come over almost every year and the Chicago contingent of the Tentet visits Europe at least once a year.

Thanks to NPR for recording this set by Vandermark’s Powerhouse Sound combo and making it available for download, you can listen to it right here.

Powerhouse Sound features Vandermark on reeds with longtime collaborator Nate McBride on electric bass; Jeff Parker, guitar and John Herndon, drums – both of whom are known for their work with Tortoise.

Below, three articles I wrote in 1998 for Centerstage.net relating to the Chicago Jazz scene. Still buried in some closet — minidiscs of interviews that I conducted with several of the players for a piece I never completed. There’s a nice long interview with Fred Anderson there and hopefully i’ll find it and when I do I’ll post it for all to share.

Poster above by Dan Grzeca via this webpage Continue reading “From the Archives: Chicago Jazz Scene, Turn of the Century”