Miles Davis
Bitches Brew


5.0
classic

Review

by bloodsorcery USER (3 Reviews)
April 25th, 2011 | 23 replies | 6,175 views


Release Date: 1969 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Meticulous, meticulous, meticulous, meticulous

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

“Bitches Brew” has been repeatedly hailed as a brilliant and innovative masterpiece for all the wrong reasons. Critics praise its “chaotic” nature, its “free-form” style. I’ve even heard one particularly clueless person call it “the birth of free jazz”, a statement which doesn’t even make chronological sense. No, I believe the brilliance of the album lies in its ability to sound like a jam session, yet upon further analysis the perfect, brilliant order of it all comes to light, and the album’s true beauty is revealed.

Possibly influenced by the abrasiveness of the emerging free jazz scene, and by the electric power of hard rock, Miles strove to create a chaotic atmosphere, a feeling of decontrol and randomness, but to say that the actual music possesses any of these traits is a falsehood. On repeated listens, the album reveals itself to be not only harmonically coherent, but also rhythmically, an aspect that is usually referred to as the record’s most “off” characteristic. The dynamics are also meticulously thought out: the sudden “drops” that give the album part of its psychedelic and “unpredictable” air are perfectly planned to create and release tension, which is one of the fundamental aspects of jazz composition. The more you listen to the album the more it feels like on coherent piece.

This is not however, to denounce the improvisational aspect of the record, which is of course a huge part of its charm, as with most jazz recordings. Upon repeated listens however you realize just how well Miles knew not only instrumental timbres and their respective uses, but also his individual musicians. For example, Chick Corea’s sparse, trippy style is given comparatively few solo spots, yet they are precisely the right ones for when he shines through and gives the music a required layer or mood, whilst Joe Zawinul’s solos are placed in the more abrasive passages, making brilliant use of his aggressive, off-beat style. It is a cliché to say that a great musician knows when not to play, but this record proves it, as not even Miles himself is on every song, so as to allow individual textures do to their own, uninterrupted thing.

If you still don’t wish to believe that this whole record was in Miles’ head from the very beginning, then you simply have to crank that *** up real loud. You’ll hear then Miles’ unmistakable hoarse whisper saying things such as “keep it tight”, “your turn John” and even snapping his fingers to indicate the tempo. Miles Davis is the quintessential bandleader, and the reason this music feels raw and exciting despite being meticulously thought-out is that Miles is executing his careful ideas on the spot. Perhaps the one adjective thus that I can agree on with the previously mentioned critics is “spontaneous”, but the spontaneity is contained within a frame, a beautiful, wondrous and maddening frame.

After the music was recorded, Miles took to the tapes, splicing, editing and moving them around as a way of further arranging the tunes, influenced by the French “musique concrete” movement of the 30’s and 40’s. This of course only goes to further support the point I’ve been stressing: “Bitches Brew” sounds chaotic, random and confusing, but structurally it is everything from it. This album is not a jam session that simply “turned out” to be brilliant thanks to its stellar array of participants. No, this is a carefully and beautifully constructed work of great musical prowess and emotional charge, in which the creator allowed for the individual expression of each of his musicians, yet always within the frame of his brilliant vision. It is thus that I safely proclaim this as one of the greatest recordings in the canon not only of jazz, but indeed of all popular music.


user ratings (931)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
SigismundFreudian (4.5)
Miles Davis gets strange....

Andrew H. EMERITUS (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
bloodsorcery
April 25th 2011



109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Take an album universally hailed as brilliant and call it brilliant once again. I'm quite fond of my M.O. to be honest.

bloodsorcery
April 25th 2011



109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's good sonic, changing the genre a bit, but i'll be back to metal soon enough

wabbit
April 25th 2011



6984 Comments


album is fucking genius.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



17204 Comments


have you ever heard Don Cherry's Eternal Rhythm or Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds?


danielito19
April 25th 2011



4681 Comments


yay jazz

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



18233 Comments


Album is pure awesome. Good review

Digging: Syndrone - Salmataxia

bloodsorcery
April 25th 2011



109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

redsky, no but i'll certainly check 'em out if there's a parallel to this here album

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



17204 Comments


both of them very much so. conference for the birds if very similar to this but a little less disjointed and that don cherry album is a bit more chaotic.

bloodsorcery
April 25th 2011



109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wasn't there an Om album called conference of the birds?

Inveigh
April 25th 2011



24863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty great review man, definitely agree. not my favorite Miles album, but close.

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wasn't there an Om album called conference of the birds?


Yes, probably their best album.

Nice review. Album is brilliant.

Chrisjon89
April 26th 2011



3478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"On repeated listens, the album reveals itself to be not only harmonically coherent, but also rhythmically"

Completely agree and that would be my advice if I was introducing this album to people and they found it difficult. Focus on the rhythms. I think that's why I can't get into free jazz - there's nothing to anchor it for me.

I love the album. Certain parts of every song are just brilliant (the first 4 or so minutes of Bitches Brew, when they get into the groove on Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, the trumpet/Rhodes parts of Sanctuary) but it can be pretty tedious. I think there are a few parts you could cut and still accomplish just as much. I don't like the bonus track either.

But good review.

Douglas
April 26th 2011



9092 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

nice write up

album slays bitches... literally

Digging: James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

liledman
April 26th 2011



3826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

was wondering if/when you would mention the post-production work, seeing as you talked about the chaotic nature etc. maybe leaving it to the last paragraph is too late. review is pretty good though.

this album takes a strange place in the miles discog, as he was quite opposed to the 'free' scene (not fond of coltranes later work and took a long time to get over the beginning of colemans career, etc.), yet as above, we still mention don cherry and dave hollands more free, and most importantly, still acoustic work, in the same breath.

badhouses
April 26th 2011



64 Comments


its ok

MO
April 26th 2011



18441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Solid review, love the brew.

Digging: Immolation - Dawn of Possession

Jethro42
April 26th 2011



12390 Comments


I fucking like the lineup on here. I want this asap. Excellent review.

LegendofPittman
April 26th 2011



2943 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This really is the best lineup Davis ever had, although I personally like Kind of Blue more.

Ethics
September 9th 2012



4112 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is THE night album.
Just lay down and let your mind unwind.

Well written review. You basically stated exactly how I feel about it.

Oceanus
September 9th 2012



877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best album art of all time.



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