Miles Davis: The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (Columbia C4K 65570).
It really is hard to believe that it has been nearly three decades since Miles Davis's Bitches Brew (sic -- for some reason, an apostrophe was never was part of the title) was released in a 2-LP set. I was not a huge jazz fan at the time, but I got the album and played it over and over and over for years and years and years. A few years back I picked up a cassette version to play in the car, and I was truly excited to finally get it on CD when it was initially released in that format. But especially after hearing the Panthalassa Miles Davis remixes by Bill Laswell, I was eager for a remix/remastering of this classic set. Now we have a 4-CD set featuring not only the original cuts off the old LP, but other music recorded during the same sessions, some of it released on other LPs over the years, some of it seeing the light of day for the first time in this collection. In terms of a "review," it is hard to know where to begin. There is so much here! Think on this: I recently got in a new recording of the Mahler 3rd Symphony for review, and I have been daunted by the task of undertaking a thorough listening of such a large, complex work, one of the grandest symphonies in the symphonic literature. As big as it is, however, it is less than half (in terms of sheer length) of what The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions represents. And no, I am not equating Mahler with Miles. Still, just as the compostional complexity of a Mahler symphony means that it can be listened to over and over again without the listener ever truly coming to grips with it, so the music created by Miles and his cohort can serve as a source of repeated musical stimulation. Cuts such as "Spanish Key," "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," and "Sanctuary" still sound fresh and exciting to me, even though I have heard them all literally hundreds of times over the past two-dozen-plus years. Perhaps the strangest cut from the whole set is "Feio," attributed to Wayne Shorter, which sounds for all the world to be a jazz tone poem describing a barnyard -- chickens, ducks, hound dogs, and all.
The packaging for the set is deluxe, with an introductory essay by Carlos Santana plus lengthy, informative essays on the music and the recording sessions by Quincy Troupe and Bob Belden, respectively. There are also the original liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason, whose writings seem just as insufferable and silly now as they did when they were fresh and new. -- KWN
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|Author:||Nehring, Karl W.|
|Article Type:||Sound Recording Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1999|
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