Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Recorded mostly in three days (August 19 to 21, 1969) it incorporated electric instruments, such as electric piano and guitar, and mostly rejected traditional jazz rhythms in favor of a looser, funk influenced improvisational style. Davis's recording was an unusual contribution to jazz.
The 2 LP/CD set contains mostly very long tracks, improvisations on pieces that were largely written on the spot. Instead of the largely diatonic style of cool jazz, Bitches Brew often favored dissonance.
Some jazz fans and musicians felt the album was crossing the limits: "Davis drew a line in the sand that some jazz fans have never crossed, or even forgiven Davis for drawing."  In a 1997 interview, drummer Bobby Previte sums up his feelings about Bitches Brew thus: "Well, it was groundbreaking, for one. How much groundbreaking music do you hear now? It was music that you had that feeling you never heard quite before. It came from another place. How much music do you hear now like that?" 
Bitches Brew is often called the best-selling jazz record. Such sales figures have been disputed, but it was Davis's first gold record, selling more than half a million copies. However Davis had 11 years earlier released Kind of Blue, another groundbreaking record that has been cited as perhaps the best-selling jazz release.
In 2003 the TV network VH1 named Bitches Brew the 64th greatest album of all time, and it was ranked #94 on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- Pharaoh's Dance
- Bitches Brew
- Spanish Key
- John McLaughlin
- Miles Runs The Voodoo Down
(The original two disc vinyl album does not include a track titled "Feio".)
It is perhaps easy for today's audience to forget how astonishing it was in 1969 to have a major label—Columbia Records—release a major album by a important jazz artist with the term "bitches" in its title. The use of the word on the album cover may be a factor in certain fans' and critics' dismissive or even hostile responses to the record.
Some have criticized Bitches Brew by saying the album was more rock than jazz, and that it was overtly commercial. Fans counter that while Davis was explicitly seeking younger audiences—he took significant cuts in his usual fees to open concerts for Santana and Steve Miller Band—nothing heard on the two discs indicates that by incorporating elements of funk and rock Davis was diluting the power of his music. Fans assert that Bitches Brew is more abstract, challenging and less restrained than music found on the preceding several years of Miles Davis recordings.
The Abdul Mati Klarwein painting featured on the cover—though striking and memorable—was perhaps an artifact of the "psychedelic" era, and may demonstrate Davis's desire to reach a different audience; for example, Klarwein's work is also prominently featured on the cover art of Santana's (1970) Abraxas, released by the same label.
The "Who's Who" level of musicianship among the participants involved in the Bitches Brew recording is indicative of the excellence demanded and the collaborative organizational abilities of Miles Davis. Some critics at the time characterized this music as simply obtuse and "outside", which recalls Duke Ellington's description of Davis as "the Picasso of jazz."
As was Davis's practice, he called musicians to the recording studio on very short notice. A few songs on Bitches Brew were rehearsed before the recording sessions, but other times the musicians had little or no idea what they were to record.
Davis liked to work this way; he thought it forced musicians to pay close attention to one another, to their own performances, or to Davis's cues, which could change at any moment. On the quieter moments of "Bitches Brew," for example, Davis's voice is audible, giving instructions to the musicians: snapping his fingers to indicate tempo, or, in his distinctive whisper, saying, "Keep it tight" or telling individuals when to solo.
The bulk of what would become Bitches Brew was recorded in three days.
Some might argue Teo Macero deserves much of the credit for Bitches Brew. His contributions were sometimes controversial, certainly important, and perhaps invaluable.
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. One source worth quoting at length 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. Even though it sounded like an old-style studio registration of a bunch of guys playing some amazing stuff, large sections of it relied heavily on studio technology to create a fantasy that never was. Miles and his producer, the legendary 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. And, 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 '30s and '40s musique concrete 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.
A new type of jazz
Though Bitches Brew was in many ways revolutionary, perhaps its most important innovation was rhythmic.
In fact, the innovative harmonic and melodic explorations heard on Bitches Brew, coupled with the absence of familiar, accepted bossa nova, swing or jazz-waltz rhythmic templates seems to be a source of much of the malevolence directed toward the album on the part of its critics.
There were no jazz standards on Bitches Brew; there were no "walking bass lines"—a traditional, old-school "swing" reference benchmark—there was, in fact, no swing in the traditional sense at all on Bitches Brew. The essential jazz element referred to as "swing" had been basically unchallenged for years before the widely used Latin rhythms employed by Dizzy Gillespie in the bop era. Bitches Brew ignored both swing and the then recently absorbed "Latin" grooves of bossa nova, drawing heavily instead on the nascent funk music of James Brown, Sly Stone, and rock-solid backbeats heard in R&B. Davis didn't simply borrow Brown or Stone's riffs, rather, he incorporated funk and related beats into an expanded vocabulary within the rhythm section as a vital element of his music.
Previous large jazz ensembles—such as the big bands—had featured several trumpets or woodwind ensembles playing as "sections" supported by an anchoring platform rhythm section often composed of piano, double bass and drums.
Bitches Brew, however, diverged from traditional jazz instrumentation and featured several "rhythm section" instruments forming currents of live counter-rhythms atop which the soloist navigated. For example, two basses, two or even three drummers, or two piano players, all playing at the same time is in many ways the foundation of the entire ensemble recorded on Bitches Brew.
Also expanding the enhanced rhythm section ensembles on Bitches Brew are electric guitar, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and additional percussionists. Bitches Brew also diverged from standard jazz practice by incorporating the Fender Rhodes electric piano and the electric bass, which were not yet recognized as legitimate jazz instruments at the time.
The solo voices heard most prominently on this album are the trumpet and the soprano saxophone, respectively of Miles and Wayne Shorter. Notable also is Bennie Maupin's ghostly bass clarinet, which was perhaps the first use of the instrument in jazz not heavily indebted to pioneer Eric Dolphy.
Also worth noting is the length of several pieces on Bitches Brew. Very few jazz musicians, excepting Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane—a former Davis associate—had released such long recordings, where a single song would be played for an entire side of an LP disc.
The technology of recording, analog tape, disc mastering and inherent recording time constraints (i.e., bandwidth) had, in the late sixties expanded beyond previous limitations and sonic range for the stereo, vinyl album and Bitches Brew reflects this. In it are found long form performances which encompass entire improvised suites with rubato sections, tempo changes or the long, slow crescendo more common to a symphonic orchestral piece or Indian raga form than the three-minute rock song.
- Miles Davis - trumpet
- Wayne Shorter - soprano saxophone
- Bennie Maupin - bass clarinet
- Joe Zawinul - electric piano
- Larry Young - electric piano
- Chick Corea - electric piano
- John McLaughlin - guitar
- Dave Holland - bass
- Harvey Brooks - electric bass
- Lenny White - drums
- Jack DeJohnette - drums
- Don Alias - drums, congas
- Jumma Santos - shaker, congas
- cool jazz
- jazz fusion
- Weather Report (Joe Zawinul's and Wayne Shorter's band)
- Return to Forever (Chick Corea's band)
- Mahavishnu Orchestra (John McLaughlin's band)
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