Bitches Brew  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Bitches Brew is a studio double album by jazz musician Miles Davis, released in June of 1970 on Columbia Records. Recording sessions took place at Columbia's 30th Street Studio over the course of three days in August of 1969. The album continued Davis' experimentation of electric instruments previously featured on his critically acclaimed In a Silent Way album. With the use of these instruments, such as the electric piano and guitar, Davis rejected traditional jazz rhythms in favor of a looser, rock-influenced improvisational style.

Often cited as one of Davis' best-selling albums and masterpieces, Bitches Brew marked a turning point in modern jazz. Upon release, it received mixed criticism from fans and critics, alike, due to the album's unconventional style and revolutionary sound. Later on, Bitches Brew gained recognition as one of jazz's greatest albums and a progenitor of the jazz rock genre, as well as a major influence on rock and funk musicians.

Bitches Brew pioneered the application of the studio as a musical instrument, featuring edits and studio effects that were an integral part of the music.


Some might argue Teo Macero deserves much of the credit for Bitches Brew. His contributions were sometimes controversial, certainly important, and perhaps invaluable. His impact on the arranging and post-performance re-mixing of Davis' work validates the analogy: Teo Macero is to Miles Davis as George Martin was to The Beatles.

There was significant editing done to the recorded music. Short sections were spliced together to create longer pieces, and various effects were applied to the recordings. Enrico Merlin reports:

Bitches Brew also pioneered the application of the studio as a musical instrument, featuring stacks of edits and studio effects that were an integral part of the music. Miles and his producer, Teo Macero, used the recording studio in radical new ways, especially in the title track and the opening track, "Pharaoh's Dance". There were many special effects, like tape loops, tape delays, reverb chambers and echo effects. Through intensive tape editing, Macero concocted many totally new musical structures that were later imitated by the band in live concerts. Macero, who has a classical education and was most likely inspired by the 1930s and 1940s musique concrète experiments, used tape editing as a form of arranging and composition.
"Pharaoh's Dance" contains 19 edits – its famous stop-start opening is entirely constructed in the studio, using repeat loops of certain sections. Later on in the track there are several micro-edits: for example, a one-second-long fragment that first appears at 8:39 is repeated five times between 8:54 and 8:59. The title track contains 15 edits, again with several short tape loops of, in this case, five seconds (at 3:01, 3:07 and 3:12). Therefore, Bitches Brew not only became a controversial classic of musical innovation, it also became renowned for its pioneering use of studio technology.

This extensive editing was sometimes controversial in jazz circles as purists and detractors argued that jazz should be "spontaneous". But decades earlier trumpeter Louis Armstrong had quickly perceived the photographic nature of the audio recording, becoming the first musician to assemble a band solely for the purpose of recording it live in the studio.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bitches Brew" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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