Friday, March 26, 2021

1970 Album of the Week, March 26- April 1: Bitches Brew, by Miles Davis

A confession: I've always wanted to like instrumental jazz (ever since coming across a couple of collections of Nat Hentoff's old jazz columns from Down Beat, the Village Voice, etc. in my high school library).

I wanted to like it while growing up in a country music household in a small midwestern town where jazz wasn't  to be found outside of the local high school's jazz band and junior high school's vocal jazz ensemble (in which I performed as a baritone). But it's never really gotten its hooks into me. I just have to  have a singer or singers to dig jazz.

So while this week's 1970 Album of the Week -- Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, released on March 30 of that year -- is incredibly influential in many ways, and while I've listened to it a number of times, and while it richly deserves inclusion in any recap of great 1970 albums, I can't say I'm personally gaga for it. The only vocals on it are Davis in the background prompting soloists, etc. I don't really have the musical / instrumental vocabulary to appreciate it properly, I guess. Or to describe it properly either.

My "track to feature" selection from the album is the shortest track on the album, "John McLaughlin," on which Davis doesn't even perform (and on which John McLaughlin does). The biggest exception to my "don't care much for instrumental jazz" rule is McLaughlin's "fusion" outfit, Mahavishnu Orchestra, formed the year after the release of Bitches Brew.

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