Home / Davis, Miles / Miles Davis – Unreleased Bitches Brew Sessions (Voodoo Down VDD 2020-001)

Miles Davis – Unreleased Bitches Brew Sessions (Voodoo Down VDD 2020-001)

Miles Davis, ‘Unreleased Bitches Brew Sessions’ (Voodoo Down VDD 2020-001)

Disk One – Bitches Brew (Disk 1/1-5) John McLaughlin (Disk 1/6-7) Pharaoh’s Dance (Disk 1/8-9) Orange Lady (Disk 1/10) Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (Disk 1/11-16) (61:43)

Disk Two – Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (Disk 2/1-3) Spanish Key (Disk 2/4-7) Directions (Disk 2/8) Pharaoh’s Dance (Disk 2 /9-12) So What (Disk 2/13) Go Ahead (Disk 2/14) (66:10)

Miles Davis’ 1970 album is regarded as a stepping stone for a whole new world in Jazz. As important as Ornette Coleman’s “Free Jazz” and John Coltrane’s ‘Ascentions’, the dark ruminations of this album were built on the foundations of Miles’ interest in to where the rock and funk worlds were turning – His wife’s (Betty Mabery) hand in introducing Miles to Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, et al was one reason that the musician found his head being turned by electric instruments and a harder, rockier sound, his interest in the way that jazz had fed upon it’s musical neighbours was another – Trad had melded in to hard-bop, be-bop and, as mentioned, the Avant-Garde. Karlheinz Stockhausen was affecting changes in the studio, operating with tape splices and loops which inspired Miles and his producer Teo Macero to implement the same. 

The world was also a different place to be and the things that rushed through the news at a near break-neck speed, brought out the changes in Davis’ mind and compositions. The basis of the album was set as the band built the song in parts, these were later edited together using portions of the sessions where Miles saw fit, utilising tape edits to fix or repeat elements that he liked. 

This compilation features pieces of the sessions that were recorded in the studio 1969 – 1970. The real reason to sit up is for the fact that the tapes used here come from under the watchful eye of the ‘So What!’ label – A label that so very obviously know their salt and have been dealing with tapes that are much closer to the master that was originally presented on the ‘Legandaly (sic) Collection Series’ releases, “Deep Brew” – The sound is a good couple of generations closer to the master than has originally been released.
An incredible collection of sessions that, while it’s shorter than the “Deep Brew” disks, sound like they could have been readied for official release – They’re just that clear! 

‘So What’ and ‘Go Ahead’, both appear from the Jack Johnson sessions, recorded in 1970. The first a frantic bass lead dash with a wild trumpet by Miles, if features a little spoken word direction by Miles at the very start. The latter is among the same lines, a little lighter on it’s feet until John McLaughlin throws in his guitar licks. Miles works his magic around the edges. 

Both tracks, while a little more saturated than the Bitches Brew sessions and less clear sounding than a commercial version, are upgraded on what has been booted before. 

Before I extoll it’s virtues too much, is this CD worth having? Yes but also no. If you’re a fan of the album inside out, you’ll love hearing the elements that went in to building the framework of it. If you’re a new or partial listener to Miles Davies, you may find yourself frustrated – It’s no SMiLE – the lack of vocals makes for a tougher listen than a straightforward jazz or rock album and, indeed, why not just focus on the album as it was originally structured? For me, while it’s interesting in parts, it lacks the blow and atmosphere of the bands live workouts, with this in mind, I’d suggest this set would be for the kind of head who stepped outside of the box and purchased the official ‘Bitches Brew’ extended boxed sets from Columbia too but may leave the curious jazz collector a little cold. 

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.