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Miles Davis-Bitches Brew Legacy Edition (2 CD/1 DVD)


So where do you start with a recording that created a genre? Bitches Brew and its legendary and iconic status has not waned one iota since the celebrated release of the set in 1970. Miles Davis changed jazz forever more than once from the 50s all the way up to this marvelous concoction of jazz-rock fusion genius.

To honor the 40th anniversary of Bitches Brew Sony Legacy has completely outdone everyone else with a remasters series by releasing three different exceedingly tempting configurations. This is the Legacy Edition then there will be the Legacy Collector’s Edition and to follow that, if that wasn’t enough for you jazz enthusiasts, the Super Deluxe 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, which has a previously unissued performance from Tanglewood in August 1970. I happen to have the advance copy of that Tanglewood performance however this edition includes a live performance from Copenhagen in 1969. Confused yet? I guess it depends how much of a Davis fan you are and how many dollars you are willing to drop for these sets. You can snag up this gem for $18.99 at Amazon right now.

I think Bitches Brew remains unmatched for flat out jazz-rock fusion albums and then some considerations are necessary for the influences you hear in world music as well. There is a reason for that, several actually. The primary driving force, Mr. Miles Davis was an innovator of the trumpet the day he picked it up and as for his collaborators that lofty status applies as well. You cannot have one innovator and the rest of the band in a box musically, they all need to be flexible and stretch the boundaries of their genre and instruments to come up with a classic recording like Bitches Brew.  I don’t have to remind you of how great this recording sounds but I will anyway. With the Columbia/Sony Legacy stamp adorning each disc you will see underneath that text ‘360 Sound’ STEREO ‘360 Sound’ with little arrows pointing in either direction. That little advertisement lives up to its billing you can be sure of that.

As the opening track “Pharaoh's Dance” kicks off you are immediately challenged to listen intently yet Miles and his cohorts gradually pull you in with more mellow passages and it all builds into amazing crescendos of sound with Miles leading the way. “Bitches Brew”, “Spanish Key” and “John McLaughlin” are jaw dropping examples of jazz-rock fusion, monuments in time and a tribute to men at the top of their game, With Shorter, Holland, Corea, DeJohnette (look up the names in Wikipedia) and a host of other musicians passing through the studios during the recording sessions it was like a hall of fame jazz gathering. Miles was the definitive leader of the pack and everyone else followed and the resulting music that was captured was groundbreaking and still totally mind blowing to this day.

The four tracks on disc one cover some ground; “Pharaoh’s Dance” (20:04), “Bitches Brew” (26:58), “Spanish Key” (17:31) and “John McLaughlin” (4:22). The title track alone is nearly one full LP and the Davis tribute to one the greatest six string benders, McLaughlin, seems like a short running single in comparison. Was this self indulgent, bombastic and long drawn out improvisation? You better believe it, and it was all so breathtaking. Where do you think progressive rock got its inspiration from besides classical music?

Disc two has some nice treats to offer as well including single edits and alternate versions. The opener “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down” is a real burner featuring that incredibly powerful rhythm section of Dave Holland (bass, who is stellar on the first four tracks as well) and check this out - dual drummers with Jack DeJohnette (right) and Don Alias (left) and some Congas for extra flavor. All that together created an amazing exercise in surround sound syncopated rhythms. And that is just the first track! You get seven more tracks after that then you can put on the DVD and watch some of these amazing performances in a live setting. The DVD is the icing on the cake of one phenomenal exhibition of flawless musical magic that can only be absorbed in chapters like a long, intense novel. To finalize the package a 23 page booklet is included; jam packed with photos and the most fitting and eloquent liner notes from Greg Tate.

I say no more, now the choice is yours what package you want. Anyway you look at it you are going to love every second of this if you are a jazz-rock fusion fan. Just think for a minute where music as a whole would be without brilliant individuals like Miles Davis to show us the way?

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Bitches Brew, Spanish Key, Miles Runs The Voodoo Down

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-August 27, 2010

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