1969 was perhaps a watershed year for jazz in America. Trumpeter Miles Davis
, the anointed pied piper, recorded Bitches Brew
(Columbia, 1970). It was to be the beginning of jazz/rock fusion. Maybe better described as jazz/rock/soul/funk fusion. Miles wasn't one to miss out on trends. He saw the popularity of Jimi Hendrix
and Sly Stone, with their rocked-out blues/soul sound, and he decided to get in on the action.
Fast-forward to the conservative purge of the 1980s, when the history books were rewritten with nary a mention of that electric Miles thing. Luckily, soon to be movers- and-shakers like saxophonist/producer Bob Belden
and trumpeter Tim Hagans
were still listening. Belden later produced the reissue of Bitches Brew
, expanding the two discs to four and introducing 15 additional songs from those sessions and the raw materials for the original release. p>Together Belden and Hagans have mined this era before, on the trumpeter's two out-of-print electric releases, Animation/Imagination
(Blue Note, 1999) and Re-Animation Live!
(Blue Note, 2000), with keyboardist-heard-here, Scott Kinsey
, recorded for the BBC, was from a live concert at New York's Merkin Hall as part of a series called Reissue: Classic Recordings Live
. Completing the lineup are bassist Matthew Garrison
, drummer Guy Licata, and DJ Logic (turntables).
The bands wasn't so much reenacting Bitches Brew
, as they were revitalizing it with modern tools. Teo Machero's tape splicing and the combination of keyboardists Joe Zawinul
, Larry Young
, and Chick Corea
could be left to just DJ Logic and Kinsey. Kinsey favors the music of Joe Zawinul
, flavoring his notes with the familiar Weather Report
sound. Same for Garrison; on the opening "Pharaoh's Dance," he displays a fondness for Jaco Pastorius
' heavy bass sounds.
Were Miles Davis here today, he certainly would be seasoning his brew with bits of hip-hop and drum 'n' bass, as heard here. Certainly the center of the recording is trumpeter Tim Hagans
, playing his trumpet amplified by reverb, wah-wah pedal, and appropriate feedback. His echoey take on "Bitches Brew" is spot on, recreating the haunting weight of Miles' quest to change the direction of jazz.