8

Lettuce: Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
It's a daunting task but a laudable ambition to afford direct tribute to a musician as iconic as Miles Davis and a work of his equal in stature, Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). But like the ensembles before them that revisited this bonafide classic, including the World Saxophone Quartet, Lettuce prove up to the task. In fact, the octet tender their homage, Witches Stew, in such a way it suggests 'The Man with the Horn,' were he still living, might well look the band for inspiration as he did Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone at the time of the original recordings.

For A Tribute to Miles Davis, Lettuce have availed themselves largely but not exclusively, of the man's groundbreaking work from 1970. Nevertheless, just as the group refuses to restrict itself unnecessarily as it continues to hone their own brand of jazz-inflected funk, the group deigns to broaden their reach beyond the album to which this title alludes, (hence the subtitle). Accordingly, the ensemble interweaves material from the the main source and its immediate predecessor in the Davis discography, In A Silent Way(Columbia, 1969) plus other selections from the legendary trumpeter/bandleader's electric era.

Adding indispensable dynamics to this collection of seven songs, handpicked by the band and recorded at the 2016 Catskill Chill in Lakewood, PA., "Shh"/Peaceful" and "In A Silent Way/"It's About That Time," extend the mood set by the atmospheric invocation of the band's muse, via Eric Bloom's trumpet, on "Miles Chases the Voodoo Down." Synthesizer washes flow around electric piano from keyboardist Nigel Hall, while guitarist Adam Smirnoff flicks notes from his own instrument to add further color to the flow.

A cull from Live/Evil (Columbia, 1971), "Sivad," offers marked contrast to the tranquility of the surrounding numbers. Drummer Adam Deitch pushes the band through a roiling set of changes, illustrating how this style resides so squarely in this band's collective wheelhouse: it's no surprise this number marks the point the performance assumes something of a life of it's own. A demonstration of the band's patience subsequently arrives in the form of the jaunty and jagged likes of "Jean Pierre," from the comeback concert album We Want Miles (Columbia, 1982), during the course of which Ryan Zoidis exhibits an earthy imagination.

Given that Lettuce hasn't played much of this music very often since this sole date, it remains unfortunate, albeit understandable, that the near hour-long Witches Stew will only be available in digital form (no physical configurations at least for now), thereby somewhat restricting its dissemination to the public at large. Still, the group made the effort to adorn the release with a wildly colorful 'cover' image, an exercise emblematic of the group's earnest intentions in conceiving and executing the project. And while A Tribute to Miles Davis hardly represents the cultural paradigm shift represented by the groundbreaking release, the effort allows Lettuce to do justice to their influences, while still retaining their own collective persona.

Track Listing: Miles Runs The Voodoo Down ; Sivad; Shhh / Peaceful; In a Silent Way / It's About That Time; Jean Pierre; Black Satin; Right Now.

Personnel: Adam Smirnoff: guitar; Nigel Hall: keyboards;Erick “Jesus” Coomes: bass; Ryan Zoidis: saxophone; Eric Bloom: trumpet; Adam Deitch: drums.

Title: Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun1Sat
Lettuce
Bell's Eccentric Cafe
Kalamazoo, MI
Jun15Sat
The Soul Rebels, Lettuce, TAUK
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO
Jul26Fri
Lettuce
State Theatre
Portland, ME

Related Articles

Read Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972 Album Reviews
Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972
By John Kelman
April 19, 2019
Read HUJE 2018 Album Reviews
HUJE 2018
By Jack Bowers
April 19, 2019
Read Farallon Album Reviews
Farallon
By Jerome Wilson
April 19, 2019
Read Burning Meditation Album Reviews
Burning Meditation
By John Sharpe
April 18, 2019
Read Remembering Cecil Album Reviews
Remembering Cecil
By Dan McClenaghan
April 18, 2019
Read Apophenia Album Reviews
Apophenia
By Roger Farbey
April 18, 2019
Read Transcending the Sum Album Reviews
Transcending the Sum
By Chris May
April 17, 2019