Electric Miles (Jazz Day 2018, Pt. 2)

Revisiting my International Jazz Day program from three years ago for Black History Month, with a two part special focusing on the Jazz idioms most visible practitioner, Miles Davis, during his “electric period”, which saw him move away from traditional Jazz (again) and create a whole new vocabulary for the art form. jazzday #jazzfusion #milesdavis #BHM #BlackHistoryMonth

This second program will focus on the releases Bitches Brew (1969), Big Fun (1974) and On The Corner (1972). Last week, I spotlighted the first and last releases during this period, In A Silent Way and Agharta. To hear all nine parts of the series for this program in 256 Kbps, you can visit my design site at www.aospdx.com.

Warning: Some parts of this program, read from Davis’ autobiography, are NSFW.

Bitches Brew

Cover of Bitches Brew, 1970. Painting by Mati Klarwein. Courtesy of Sony/BMG.

Track: Pharaoh’s Dance, recorded 1969/released 1970

Though technically not the first Jazz Fusion album, Bitches Brew is the one that not only has become the gold standard in terms of the genre, it rekindled an interest in Jazz music like no other album had done in the the late 1960’s. By the time of the release of the album, Jazz was a commercially dying force. It not only became the first Jazz album many baby boomers purchased, it also became Davis’s only Billboard Top 40 album, as well as his first gold record. It is as important to Jazz music of this era as Sgt. Pepper was to Rock and Roll.

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – soprano saxophone
  • Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
  • Joe Zawinul – electric piano – Left
  • Larry Young – electric piano – Center
  • Chick Corea – electric piano – Right
  • John McLaughlin – electric guitar
  • Dave Holland– bass
  • Harvey Brooks– electric bass
  • Lenny White – drum set – Left
  • Jack DeJohnette – drum set – Right
  • Don Alias – congas
  • Juma Santos (credited as “Jim Riley”) – shaker

Big Fun

Cover of Big Fun, 1974. Illustration by Corky McCoy. Courtesy fo Sony/BMG.

Track: Lonely Fire, released 1974

A compilation album of leftover tracks recorded during Davis’s electric period, the original double vinyl LP only had four cuts on it, each taking up an entire side of the album. The tracks are recorded by a variety of line-ups, which cause the overall sound of the release to sound like a multi-artist collection. In a review for the album, Billboard magazine stated that Davis “has the creativity of mind and expertise of profession to break away from the conventional.”

  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
  • Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
  • Khalil Balakrishna – sitar, Indian instruments
  • Chick Corea – electric piano
  • Joe Zawinul – electric piano, Farfisa organ
  • Dave Holland – double bass
  • Harvey Brooks – Fender bass guitar
  • Jack DeJohnette – drums
  • Billy Cobham – drums
  • Airto Moreira – Indian instruments, percussion

On The Corner

Cover of On The Corner, 1972. Illustration by Corky McCoy. Courtesy of Sony/BMG.

Tracks: On The Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin’ Of One Thing And Doin’ Another/Vote For Miles, recorded and released 1972

Contemporary Jazz reviews of On The Corner were less than favorable. CODA magazine printed that the music was “pure arrogance”. Davis biographer Bill Coleman stated in 1974 it was “an insult to the intellect of the people.” Saxophonist Stan Getz proclaimed “that music is worthless.” Its legend has grown over time, being given iconic status in modern music journalism sites like Pitchfork, calling it the 30th best album of the 1970’s. Interestingly, Davis himself played his trumpet infrequently, spending a great deal of time on the organ.

  • Miles Davis – electric trumpet with wah-wah, organ
  • Carlos Garnett – soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
  • Dave Liebman – soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
  • Bennie Maupin – bass clarinet
  • Chick Corea – Fender Rhodes, keyboards
  • Herbie Hancock – Fender Rhodes, keyboards
  • Harold Ivory Williams – keyboards
  • Cedric Lawson – organ
  • Dave Creamer – guitar
  • Reggie Lucas – guitar
  • John McLaughlin – guitar
  • Khalil Balakrishna – electric sitar
  • Collin Walcott – electric sitar
  • Michael Henderson – bass guitar
  • Don Alias – drums, percussion
  • Jack DeJohnette – drums
  • Al Foster – drums
  • Billy Hart – drums
  • James Mtume – percussion
  • Badal Roy – tabla

Love to you all.

Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. 
Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer

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