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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 miles-beyond.com) :

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

SOLOS SECTION #1
$ (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

LINEUP :
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]

1 comment:

Dana said...

Damn.. that was complex. The Pooks went nuts when I was playing it.

Can't get over the part about splicing tapes with razor blades..!