Miles Davis began recording Bitches Brew on this date in 1969, and changed modern music forever

With the dust of the just-completed Woodstock festival still settling, Miles Davis was on his own idiosyncratic trip on this date in 1969, as he settled into Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in Manhattan to begin the three-day recording sessions that would produce his groundbreaking jazz-rock record, Bitches Brew. The album features a stellar cast of musicians who came to the studio with little knowledge of what they were getting into or what songs they were going to play. Davis thrived on playing in the moment, giving very little direction to the players or demands for what directions he wanted the songs to go, while also knowing exactly what type of style and sound he was searching for.

Bitches Brew ended up being one of the most celebrated, and divisive, records of Miles' career, launching him into his wildly experimental electric jazz phase that, for the most part, he would continue to explore for the rest of his life. Davis boldly turned the storied jazz tradition on its collective ear with this record, fusing a pulsing funk and innovative electric flourishes with quiter moments of reflection and serenity. Miles also used many different inventive recording effects that were mainly unexplored in the world of jazz music, splicing together different rhythms and loops that gave these songs a decidedly modern (even futuristic) sound. 

The cast of musicians on this record reads like a veritable who's who of the jazz world at the time: Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Bennie Maupin, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, and a whole host of other talented players all helped realize and expand on Miles' ambitious vision for this project. The songs all bristle with an urgency and swing that sounds otherworldly at times, casting off the tired tempo of "cool jazz" that Davis had recently created but obviously had already tired of.

These six exploratory songs take the distinguished roots of jazz in an entirely fresh, revolutionary direction, and create a whole new world for listeners to get lost in. The band continually expands on a theme or a riff freely, with no restraints or requirements as to where the track will, or should, end up. And the results are frequently mind-blowing, echoing the excitement and anticipation of a new decade in the process, while confidently challenging each and every other band out there to make something this avant-garde and radical. And sadly (but not surprisingly), not many others would, including even Davis himself. But he did set the bar exceeding high with Bitches Brew, simply one of the best albums of all time, period.

"Like" Gimme Noise on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gimme_noise.

Sponsor Content

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault