Wednesday, October 25, 2006

miles ahead - part four

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the late great Miles Davis. Here are parts one, two and three.

I met up with an old friend the other week and we were chatting about the blog and he said that he enjoyed reading it but he avoided the jazz posts... Arch, if you're reading this, you should REALLY give this one a listen as we're about to get into the relams of Miles davis' electric output.

Recorded in 1969, Bitches Brew took abstract jazz improvisations and played them on electric instruments with a straight rock backbeat (following on from In A Silent Way a couple of months earlier).

This recording is taken from Black Beauty, a recording of Miles' group at the Fillmore West, San Francisco, on April 10 1970. Miles was trying to engage with as wide an audience as possible (he even dropped his usual performance fee to play at both of Bill Graham's Fillmore venues). But judging from this questing, relentlessly abstract music, he could hardly be accused of selling out...

Miles Davis - Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (live, 1970)

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this except LISTEN, because this is as funky as you like. The band take the most straightforward track on Bitches Brew, the slow, driving blues of Miles Runs The Voodoo Down, and turn it inside out.

Things start out slow, low and dirty until the rhythm kicks up a gear at 2:17 (never fails to make me smile); particularly love the percussive keyboard stabs from 3:10, which get even more frenzied under Steve Grossman's soprano sax solo (around about the 5:00 mark). Things get seriously abstract from 7:30 onwards, especially when they start monkeying around with the Echoplex from 9:14 - this is the bit that I really love, where they have the balls to make some seriously messed up noises. The abstract squiggles finally coalesce into an almighty roar at 11:29

It's not really that far removed from the abstract deconstruction of So What that I posted in the previous part, just the sounds they were using move it into the jazz-rock zone. And don't get me started on people who think that anything after 1966 isn't jazz... It's jazz because Miles Davis called it that. He's more intelligent than you. Shut Up. Listen.

Man, this recording is 36 years old. Who's doing anything this interesting these days? Miles was so far ahead of music that he's practically standing behind us right now.

Buy - Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Fillmore West
Visit - Miles Davis (wikipedia)

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