A Kind of Brew

Well here’s a find for fan’s of Miles Davis. I stumbled across this exceedingly rare clip of his 1969 band playing at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London, complete with an introduction by Ronnie Scott himself. It’s  rare, firstly, because Miles didn’t do many club gigs at this time (or after) and I have a feeling that this might be one of his last; he usually played big concert venues whenever he toured in later years. But an even rarer thing about it is that this is the legendary “Lost Quintet” of Miles (on trumpet, of course), Wayne Shorter on saxophone(s), Chick Corea (keyboards), Jack de Johnette on drums and Dave Holland on bass.

Filmed in November 1969, this performance took place just a few months after the recording sessions that give rise to the celebrated but controversial album Bitches Brew, which was released in April 1970. The band at Ronnie Scotts was a subset of the larger ensemble that made the album, but you can hear the similarity in musical style, heavily influenced by psychedelic rock…

And here, for completeness, is a fuller version of the title track of the album Bitches Brew, recorded just two days later in the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen.

Miles was obviously experimenting with a much freer form of improvisation at this time and both the album and this live performance seethe with a kind of wild passion that threatens to burst into anarchy at any moment. It’s not exactly easy listening, of course, and the live performance is inevitably rough around the edges, but I think it’s a fascinating bit of jazz history. And, for what it’s worth, I think Bitches Brew is completely and utterly brilliant..

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