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Miles’ Bitches Brew is 50 Years Old!

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 9, 2019 01:46pm | Post a Comment
 
Miles DavisBitches Brew was hatched 50 years ago to the public. Unbelievable. Columbia did a 40 Year Anniversary box set of the record, so I don’t expect costs or sales in the current marketplace to allow a 50-year version. Bitches Brew IS NOT LIKE OTHER records of its time, or any time. It should have a hype sticker on the outside. I believe it had a ‘’2-LP’’ sticker or something to let you know, or to entice you to buy/warn you. The first time I heard any of It was on a series of bootleg LPs that sounded like it was just hard core jamming, with the gents’ strict orders to play their asses off, and LOUDLY! The music itself was more like In ASilent Way at a faster tempo, dipped in more distortion, courtesy Chick’s Rhodes set to 11, and at faster tempi. There was a bigger hit of funk in this, due to Jack Dejohnette’s evolvement in the groove that was happening. I was familiar and in awe of the players, hence my interest in the first place. 
 
Then it came out on a legit 2-fer, with German painter Mati Klarwein’s fantastic gatefold artwork, so mysterious, tribal and enticing. It contributed to many sales of the record, no doubt, and just the title-Bitches Brew-challenged the norm of the day (this was 1970), visually wreaked havoc on one’s imagination, and surely tugged at the sexuality of anyone who checked it out. And that cover REALLY made you want to check it out. To this day.
 
Miles was letting the cats do their own thing, and then Teo would edit later. These cuts (or sections of them) began showing up on the boots from 1969, and many have wonderful sound quality. Miles’ album Live-Evil held edits of some of these remarkable sessions. Differing speakers tighten the sound considerably, giving the electric pianos a sound stage that blends them into what sounds like one Rhodes Piano. On headphones, Airto has some definite African groove spinning out of his groovy Brazilian head, plus some animal effects emanating from his prowess. These are especially prominent in the live cuts released in the subsequent Bitches Brew Live album.

Miles had discarded the RMI electric pianos around this time. Good. Rhodes ruled. I love the spacey dissonance of the 2 or 3 Fender Rhodes pianos-they sound like one person with fifteen fingers. These fingers split themselves into a Zawinul, a Corea, a Hancock and on the guitar, a McLaughlin, not to give short shrift to a Billy Cobham, Tony WilliamsLarry Young and the whole, big world of jazz-rock legends that those fingers were dancing to. Listening now, can you believe that this music was the beginning of huge new styles in jazz-rock thought up in the mid-late 60’s?

OK, so then the studio record(s) came out as a 2-LP set on Columbia Records’ 360-degree label. There are SOME allusions to BItches Brew on all Miles’ discs located around this time. You’ve got Harvey Brooks,  Electric Flag’s bass player on most of the studio material, shadowing Dave Holland, but never live, so only a studio thing. Was he Miles’ choice ‘cuz he dug the Flag, or what? I guess he had worked on Betty Davis’ LP around this time, and Miles dug what he was doing. He works out about half the time, the rest of the time he’s echoing Holland with Zawinul, Jack and Chick, or just doing garage band rock grooves. It gave producer Teo Macero more stuff to edit in. You’ve got Larry Young doing his best juju, but not live. There is a treasure of known innovators here, but mostly Chick, Jack, Dave, Keith and Airto, with Zawinul, Cobham and Herbie on the studio cuts. All these ‘’complete’’ box sets show the progress of Miles’ and Teo’s thinking, and I have my favorites. Here, we’re talking Bitches Brew. Bennie Maupin’s, bass clarinet added a foreboding sense of the spookyness, perhaps the best reflection of the cover art and another stroke of genius, musically, in this particular brew de’ bitch. But it’s the foundation of later jazz-rock that we have here, so big deal, indeed.

Currently we’ve got what Sony calls, ‘’The Legacy Series.’’  These have been remixed and remastered by Teo Macero and various other engineer types in the era (Stan Tonkel, Russ Payne, etc.). Legally, I understand that Joe Zawinul had to squeeze Miles to get his name credited to some of the pieces (Pharoah’s Dance, In A Silent Way, etc) that he rightfully wrote. What’s ‘’writing’’ in this context? In A Silent Way is clearly a song Joe was working on, with extra music and changes with Cannonball and on his first solo album. 

Bitches Brew is not like other of Miles’ recordings that he recorded at that time. Live, you could hear his huge change of direction, starting with his own playing, with leaping, searching whelps of chromatic blues and then into the Jack Dejohnette/Chick Corea/ Keith Jarrett show, Jack doing his massive, rolling funk trip and Chick squeezing every sound possible from the Rhodes with distortion and a ring modulator attached. And don’t forget Keith Jarrett’s last use of electronics  (including Ruta and Daitya, cut in 1972 on ECM) before going 100% acoustic, here playing the long-discontinued Fender Contempo Combo organ which Miles must have thought blended nicely with the Rhodes. To me it sounds like something you’d borrow from the kid down the street for a garage jam, but oddly sounds wonderful in Keith Jarrett’s hands, used in unison with other riffs Keith was playing. This is best illustrated in the Complete Cellar Door sessions that Sony released from 1970 sessions at that club.
 
Do you have The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box set? Most of the unreleased (until this box set ) cuts I like better than the actual released LP takes. You can hear Miles reaching out into differing styles much more than what we’re given in the official release, pretty much a lot of similar jams that Teo Macero and Miles chose to edit severely. In fact, this is a major editing project, one that makes the tracks blossom into ‘’songs’’ that were deemed the right direction for Miles to present to his audience as his current sound. I suppose that continuity was a factor in putting the set together as time would tell.
 
Mobile Fidelity, the audiophile remastering company has released a great sounding remastered version of the record here.  Mobile Fidelity has also released In A Silent Way, with some Bitches Brew-intended material included which were meant for some of Miles' projects. Who knows, with all the tape editing, what made it and what ended up on the floor.
  
The in A Silent Way box set (highly recommended) delivers the last of the more compositional Miles cuts, many written by Wayne Shorter. Wayne does drop ‘’Sanctuary’’ into the whole Brew, almost to add a little respite to the 15-finger sound that the rest of the tracks deliver. At this time, too, Wayne was pulling back as THE writer, saving his stuff for Weather Reportand knowing from what I hear in the live situation (Wayne didn’t make the Newport Jazz Fest at this time because of traffic getting in!), that he would enjoy less improvising, as his composing was becoming more and more interesting.
 
In this remix culture, the calls to remix this record are moot-it’s been done at least twice already. The Quadraphonic remix, which plays normally and wonderfully in stereo is available all over, (I’ve seen many copies at Amoeba Music) as many original Quad Columbia LPs are. They made a big commitment to Quad when the format came out. The Quad mixes are just a few guys in a room remixing the multitrack tapes into 4 channels. These might be 3-track mixes,( folded out? )into four. Or, they could be 8-track recordings, so says Sony engineer Mark Wilder. One hears some totally different playing, unedited by Teo, and different movement in the whole project. Absolutely fascinating. There is also a Japanese Quad SA-CD 2-disc that may be remixed by Teo. I have not heard those mixes.
 
The Legacy Edition that you get when you buy the current version states that it has  been remixed and mastered by Teo Macero. This could be in error, as Teo does not mention these in his subsequent interviews, and Miles can’t comment.
 
To read a difinitive article about the Bitches Brew album, sessions and methodology, go to Paul Tingen’s phenomenal piece in Jazztimes magazine from July 2017 here: https://jazztimes.com/author/paul-tingen/

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode with Adrian Younge

Posted by Amoebite, July 30, 2019 03:07pm | Post a Comment

Adrian Younge - What's In My Bag? Amoeba Music

LA music producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and sharp-dressed man Adrian Younge visited Amoeba Hollywood recently and talked with us about his introduction to jazz, the influence of David Axelrod's compositions on hip-hop, and the band that inspired him to learn how to play instruments in our latest What's In My Bag? episode.

Often fusing the genres of soul, hip-hop, funk, and jazz, Adrian Younge first attracted critical acclaim for his score to the Adrian Younge Produced By2009 blaxploitation flick Black Dynamite. In addition to his roles as producer and composer, Younge was responsible for the majority of the music on the score, performing over a dozen instruments himself with support from a handful of vocalists and instrumentalists. Wax Poetics released Younge's score later that year. The success of Black Dynamite led Younge to relaunch his earlier Venice Dawn project; as a result, Wax Poetics released his atmospheric Something About April LP in 2011.

In 2013, Younge teamed up with The Delfonics, a major influence on Adrian, for the LP Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics. Shortly afterward, Younge joined forces with Ghostface Killah for Adrian Younge Presents Twelve Reasons to Die. His next high-profile collaboration was 2014's Adrian Younge Presents There Is Only Now with Souls of Mischief. Working tirelessly, Younge followed this up with work on Bilal's In Another Life and Ghostface's Twelve Reasons to Die II. In 2016, Something About April II came out, with contributions from Raphael Saadiq and Laetitia Sadier. That same year, Younge released The Electronique Void, a synth-heavy concept LP featuring narration from Jack Waterson, and joined forces with Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the Luke Cage soundtrack. Younge has also worked with or been sampled by Kendrick Lamar, Common, and Jay-Z. In 2019, he released Produced By Adrian Younge, which features vocals by Black Thought, Estelle, Georgia Anne Muldrow and more.

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode with José James

Posted by Amoebite, March 14, 2019 01:22pm | Post a Comment

Jose James - What's In My Bag? - Amoeba Music

Acclaimed neo-soul/jazz/hip-hop musician and composer José James did some shopping at Amoeba Hollywood recently and talked with us about some of his favorite artists for our latest What's In My Bag? episode. James went looking for a Tribe Called Quest t-shirt and ended up with an Eric Dolphy shirt instead, happily surprised to see the jazz saxophonist/clarinetist printed on a piece of apparel. "He's a really deep figure for me, and for jazz," he explained. "His album Out To Lunch, on Blue Note, to me is the highest standard of avant-garde music in America." James went on to discuss Dolphy's influence on John Coltrane, saying he "encouraged John to let the saxophone speak. He was really trying to get beyond the limitations of the instrument, and just make sounds." James had similarly thoughtful things to say about every item he picked, giving us an educational and entertaining peek into his shopping bag.

Born in Minneapolis, MN, José James attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. His oeuvre has been compared to D'Angelo, Frank Ocean, Miguel, Bobby McFerrin, and Leon Thomas. Jose James - Lean On Me - Amoeba MusicHe released his debut LP, The Dreamer, in 2008 via the Brownswood label. James followed his first LP with Blackmagic (Brownswood) and For All We Know (Verve), both released in 2010. The latter album took home the Edison Award and the L'Académie du Jazz Grand Prix for the year's Best Vocal Jazz Album.

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Sunken Continent Mental Vacation Needed

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 31, 2019 06:05pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

"Knowing her fate, Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth,
On board were the Twelve: The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist,
the magician and the other so-called Gods of our legends.
Though Gods they were...
And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind,
Let us rejoice and let us sing and dance and ring in the new...Hail Atlantis!"
~ Donovan, "Atlantis," 1968

Were you too thwacking the side of your head to get the salt water and crummy dialogue out of your brain after seeing the new DC AquaDude movie? Good grief, give me a 1966 Marvel Sub-Mariner cartoon on VHS any day over that overload of computer-graphic garbage...for nothing beats the fear of being trapped in the Quagmire of Doom!

Not to mention, the fear of being killed by a giant man-eating clam, much like the lyrics to "Leah," my favorite Roy Orbison song.



Like many, my first introductions to Atlantis as a kid were from watching In Search of with Leonard Warlords of AtlantisNimoy and Arthur C. Clarke giving his theory on the lost continent while twirling a rainbow parasol and strolling on a beach in Sri Lanka. It was not till I was in my mid-20's that I discovered such breathtakingly "beautiful" films as Beyond Atlantis (1973), The Giant of Metropolis (1961), Warlords of Atlantis (1978), and the George Pal classic Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961) with the menacing Giant Death-Ray Crystal! Mind you, what takes my breath away may just give you bad breath...but it's worth it, much like chewing on Riley's delicious Jalapeno beef jerky.

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Litquake Presents Michael Nesmith of The Monkees & Word/Jazz with Broun Fellinis

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, October 4, 2018 08:55pm | Post a Comment

LitQuake 2018

Litquake, San Francisco's annual literary festival, celebrates its 19th year with ten days of events running Michael NesmithOctober 11-20 in venues all over the city. Amoeba Music is thrilled to co-present these two exciting events, both happening at Cafe Du Nord.


Monkee Memoir: Michael Nesmith with Beth Lisick
Thursday, October 18 • 7:00pm - 8:30pm • Cafe Du Nord

Michael Nesmith’s eclectic, electric life spans his star-making role on The Monkees, his invention of the music video, and his critical contributions to movies, comedy, and the world of virtual reality. His funny and thoughtful memoir Infinite Tuesday takes readers on a pilgrimage in search of a set of principles to live by, from a childhood in Dallas, where his single mother Bette invented Liquid Paper, to the set of The Monkees, the heart of swinging London, and an unexpected oasis of brilliance in the Santa Fe desert, where friendships with Douglas Adams and Los Alamos scientists pointed him toward the power of the infinite. A true American original. In conversation with writer and actor Beth Lisick. Book sales and signing to follow.

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