MILES DAVIS — Bitches Brew (review)

MILES DAVIS — Bitches Brew album cover Album · 1970 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
AtomicCrimsonRush
This album has to be considered a milestone in jazz fusion at it's most experimental, with wild flourishes of African drum beats and crazy trumpet solos. At times it is Santana meets Osibisa. There is no doubt that the fusion on this is inspirational and a Milestone, though for me it really blends together as an overlong jam session, and sounds rather dated these days. The 60s hippy movement and drug culture may have revelled in this but I found it increasingly irritating in places. Perhaps it is too repetitive and heavily reliant on congas and percussion. It has become an early 70s icon no doubt. The voodoo beat is not my cup of tea, however, as it all feels a bit witch doctorish, like the soundtrack to the scene in "Live And Let Die" where the voodoo dancers are tripping out around the fire.

There is no real compositional structure from track to track though perhaps that is the appeal of the album; the improvisational feel is hard core fusion and the mood is always darkened by the competing instruments and non synchronic metrical patterns. As a double album it was groundbreaking for jazz rock but the music tends to drone on for a long time, repeating motifs and non variations of funkadelic grooves that simply lock in. Jazz fans of course would love this and that is the main target audience, and will remain so for all of Davis' albums. The instrumentation of bass clarinet and tenor saxophone is marvellous and the real drawcard for subsequent listens, along with Davis' trumpet brilliance.

If you are looking for a highlight track to listen to as an example, perhaps the 27 minute Bitches Brew, and Spanish Key at 17:34 are worthy contenders. But you will need patience because this music builds painfully slow at times, with random blasts of trumpet and dissonant chords that jolt constantly, and if you are not a fan you may find yourself wanting to switch to something else with more structure. I prefer Davis' 'Kind of Blue' or 'In A Silent Way', but 'Bitches Brew' is still an interesting curio that stands alone in the extensive Davis' catalogue.

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