Sunday, January 10, 2016

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

 



It goes without saying that it is hard to write something new and revealing about Miles' 1970 masterpiece “Bitches Brew”. And I’m sure there are many others more qualified to write intelligent stuff about this game changer in jazz music. So I will not do that.

But I will tell you how and why this album came to me and what it did to me. I have been listening to jazz for quite a long while but mostly the easy listening classic stuff. I enjoyed jazz as you enjoy a fine red wine. You go with the one that tastes smooth and doesn’t give you a headache. So there they were: Coltrane (the melodic stuff), Monk, Getz, Parker and others. But ten years ago I had a friend (who is still a friend) at work who also happens to be a jazz musician. We talked a lot about jazz and I told him what I had been listening to over the years. He looked at me, nodded with an understanding smile and then he told me with a serious voice:

- That’s nice. But you need to hear “Bitches Brew”.

And because I trust my friend when it comes to jazz I went out and got me a two cd-set of the album, got home, put it in the stereo and sat down, put on the headphones, turned up the volume and pressed play.

And a new universe opened up inside my head.

Now I have listened to lots music that has challenged the rules in the past. Born and raised in a Frank Zappa home and repeatedly submerging myself in death metal and any other form of extreme metal I consider myself fairly open minded when it comes to music. But “Bitches Brew” triggered feelings of pure joy and love for music on a level I had never felt before. The album is a gateway into a great unknown where the laws of music are put aside and a new set of rules is in play. Miles mixed rock, jazz, funk and so much more into this true work of art in a way that it is near impossible to label it. And really, why do we need to do that? It doesn’t care about the history of jazz. It only heads one way. Ahead. Into the future. In one of those famous Miles Davis quotes he says “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there”. And that is exactly what is happening on “Bitches Brew”. This music had never been done before and it has not been done again in any way.

To go into details on the music is quite useless I think. After ten years of listening to this album I still can’t explain why it’s so great. I truly can’t. It’s like trying to explain zen or what God is (which is quite hard for me anyway, hard headed atheist and all). But Miles succeeds in reaching that almost spiritual feeling with his music on this one. I get a warm feeling inside and my head explodes every time I listen to it. And I still listen to it a lot ten years after hearing it for the first time. I don’t think any other album has been played so many times on my stereo. Well maybe Metallica's “Master Of Puppets” and Zappa's “Roxy & Elsewhere” but not with that feeling of holiness that “Bitches Brew” brings to me. Every time I spin it is a sacred moment. I don’t listen to it, I still explore it. It brings me something new every time I put it on. It’s like it transforms and transcends itself every time. This album stands on the shoulders of no one. And no other album will stand on the shoulders of this giant. It’s like the monolith in “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. It is something that you touch and get sucked into just to discover that everything is full of stars and that music can take you anywhere.

- The Void


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