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Monday, June 30, 2008

MILES DAVIS : Bitches Brew [edit] (1969)

R.I.P. Teo Macero (1925-2008)

"Teo Macero, a record producer, composer and saxophonist most famous for his role in producing a series of albums by Miles Davis in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including editing that almost amounted to creating compositions after the recordings, died on Tuesday in Riverhead, N.Y. He was 82 and lived in Quogue, N.Y.

"His death followed a long illness, his stepdaughter, Suzie Lightbourn, said. Helping to build Miles Davis albums like “Bitches Brew,” “In a Silent Way” and “Get Up With It,” Mr. Macero used techniques partly inspired by composers like Edgard Varèse, who had been using tape-editing and electronic effects to help shape the music. Such techniques were then new to jazz and have largely remained separate from it since. But the electric-jazz albums he helped Davis create — especially “Bitches Brew,” which remains one of the best-selling albums by a jazz artist — have deeper echoes in almost 40 years of experimental pop, like work by Can, Brian Eno and Radiohead.

"Davis’s routine in the late 1960s was to record a lot of music in the studio with a band, much of it improvised and based on themes and even mere chords that he would introduce on the spot. Later Mr. Macero, with Davis’s help, would splice together vamps and bits and pieces of improvisation.
Mr. Macero strongly believed that the finished versions of Davis’s LPs, with all their intricate splices and sequencing — done on tape with a razor blade, in the days before digital editing — were the work of art, the entire point of the exercise. He opposed the current practice of releasing boxed sets that include all the material recorded in the studio, including alternate and unreleased takes. Mr. Macero was not involved in Columbia’s extensive reissuing of Davis’s work for the label, in lavish boxed sets from the mid-’90s until last year. "

So this week's pick will try to illucidate Teo's editing style, and to bring the Return To Forever trilogy to a close. This is the title track off of Miles Davis' pioneering jazz-fusion album. But you won't find funk, rock, or really even jazz on this track! It's more of a mood, a groove, a sound, and certainly unclassifiable. Below is a small breakdown of the edit (from :

* 00:00 - Bass vamp #1
*00:41 - THEME by Davis w. echo -> THEME by Davis & Shorter

$ (a) 02:50 - Bass vamp #2 with Brooks & Alias
* (b) 02:56 - Bass vamp #2 with Brooks, Maupin & Alias
$ (b) 03:01 - Duplication of (b) bass vamp, from 2:56 through 3:01
$ (b) 03:07 - Duplication of (b) bass vamp, from 2:56 through 3:01
$ (b) 03:12 - Duplication of (b) bass vamp, from 2:56 through 3:01
$ (ab) 03:17 - Duplication of (a) plus (b) bass vamp, from 2:50 through 3:01
$ (b) 03:27 - Duplication of (b) bass vamp, from 2:56 through 3:01
* 03:32 - the rest of the rhythm section enters and the performance continues without edits
* Solos: Davis (3:54/ 6:20)

So as you can see, there is a LOT of editing going on behind the scenes, even with this fraction of the song (total length 27 mins)! It basically demonstrates the 'introduction', the main groove, and Miles' trumpet solo. This track also documents the first musical meeting of Chick Corea with Lenny White, who would later go on to Return To Forever. And if you look at the rest of the lineup, it's a virtual who's-who of great jazz artists of the last 30 years.

Song : "Bitches Brew [edit]" (composed by Miles Davis)
From the LP "Bitches Brew" (Columbia)
recorded Aug. 19, 1969; released Apr. 1970

Miles Davis : trumpet (RIP 1926 - 1991)
Wayne Shorter : soprano saxophone
Bennie Maupin : bass clarinet
Joe Zawinul : electric piano -left speaker (RIP 1932 - 2007)
Chick Corea : electric piano - right speaker
John McLaughlin : guitar
Dave Holland : bass
Harvey Brooks : electric bass
Lenny White : drums - left
Jack DeJohnette : drums - right
Don Alias : congas (RIP 1939 - 2006)
Jumma Santos (Jim Riley) : shaker (RIP 1948 - 2007)

Get it here : Bitches Brew [edit]

Saturday, June 21, 2008


OK OK, this one is too obvious. But it IS one of the group's signature songs, and the second song of their current setlist. This is also a classic example of how the term 'jazz-rock' merged with 'jazz-funk', not really being either entirely. Probably the most identifiable part of this track is the section - first appearing at 2:19 - where Stanley Clarke plays a now classic bassline (which is completed by Lenny White's great drum beat). Most bass players getting into Clarke try to learn this lick at one point or another. The song also appears on the new Return To Forever 2CD Anthology released this year. Apparently all the songs have been remixed and remastered, and you can truly hear a large improvement in the sound. To keep things interesting, both versions of the track are being posted, so you can compare.

Song : "Vulcan Worlds" (composed by Stanley Clarke)
From the LP "WHERE HAVE I KNOWN YOU BEFORE" (Polydor) 1974

Chick Corea : keyboards, percussion
Stanley Clarke : bass, bell tree, chimes
Al Di Meola : guitar
Lenny White : drums, percussion

Get it here :
Vulcan Worlds (original version)
Get it here :
Vulcan Worlds (2008 remix)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

RETURN TO FOREVER featuring CHICK COREA : Celebration Suite Part I (1975)

The classic lineup of Return To Forever is back on tour! Like many genres from the '70s, jazz-fusion has reemerged with a new level of appreciation by music fans and musicians. Every musician in this group is respected and reknowned, and luckily they're sticking to the classic recordings from 1973-76 as part of their setlist. According to the online setlist, this track MAY be in the set (it's listed as "Other selections", whatever that means). Although the band is best known for the usual blend of jazz, rock, and occasionally funk, their roots also dipped heavily into Latin music as well (mainly on the part of Chick Corea; early members also included Airto Moreira and Flora Punim). In fact, this song (a two-part suite) has very little 'jazz' at all, in the traditional sense. Corea would soon explore his Latin roots in further solo albums.

Song : "Celebration Suite Part I" (written by Chick Corea)
From the LP "NO MYSTERY" (Polydor) Feb. 1975

Chick Corea : keyboards, synthesizers
Stanley Clarke : bass
Lenny White : drums, percussion
Al DiMeola : guitar

Get it here : Celebration Suite Part I

Sunday, June 08, 2008

BO DIDDLEY : Elephant Man (1970)

R.I.P. 1928-2008

Bo Diddley, a singer and guitarist who invented his own name, his own guitars, his own beat and, with a handful of other musical pioneers, rock ’n’ roll itself, died June 2nd at his home in Archer, Fla. He was 79. The cause was heart failure, a spokeswoman, Susan Clary, said. Mr. Diddley had a heart attack last August, only months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa.

In the 1950s, as a founder of rock ’n’ roll, Mr. Diddley — along with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and a few others — helped to reshape the sound of popular music worldwide, building on the templates of blues, Southern gospel, R&B and postwar black American vernacular culture.

His original style of rhythm and blues influenced generations of musicians. And his Bo Diddley syncopated beat — three strokes/rest/two strokes — became a stock rhythm of rock ’n’ roll.
It can be found in Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Johnny Otis’s “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the Who’s “Magic Bus,” Bruce Springsteen’s “She’s the One” and U2’s “Desire,” among hundreds of other songs.

Yet the rhythm was only one element of his best records. In songs like “Bo Diddley,” “Who Do You Love,” “Mona,” “Crackin’ Up,” “Say, Man,” “Ride On Josephine” and “Road Runner,” his booming voice was loaded up with echo and his guitar work came with distortion and a novel bubbling tremolo. The songs were knowing, wisecracking and full of slang, mother wit and sexual cockiness. They were both playful and radical.

So were his live performances: trancelike ruckuses instigated by a large man with a strange-looking guitar. It was square and he designed it himself, long before custom guitar shapes became commonplace in rock.

Mr. Diddley was a wild performer: jumping, lurching, balancing on his toes and shaking his knees as he wrestled with his instrument, sometimes playing it above his head. Elvis Presley, it has long been supposed, borrowed from Mr. Diddley’s stage moves; Jimi Hendrix, too.

So another music legend leaves us, but not his legacy. A lesser-known part of this legacy is his attempt at recreating himself as a funk musician in the early-70s! Even his attire was somewhat shocking! This track is from the first album released in his new image, but you can still hear that raw rocking guitar from his early days. Although he would get funkier, this is a nice piece of groovy soul.

- The Bo Diddley transformation -
From this... this!

Song : "Elephant Man"
From the LP "THE BLACK GLADIATOR" (Checker) Jun. 1970

Get it here : Elephant Man