Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book: Bitches Brew by George Grella Jr. (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Bitches Brew, the seminal double album by Miles Davis, was a watershed moment in jazz and rock 'n' roll history. In this compact volume, Grella charts the development of the recording, taking the long view describing the development of Davis's career, and his approach to making music. Critically, this changed toward the end of the 1960's, when Davis began moving from the traditional way of recording jazz in the studio, with full takes of the songs included warts and all with little editing, into the format that was favored by pop and rock recordings, one of many cuts, and overdubbing to make for the best take possible. Grella describes the manner in which Davis and producer Teo Macero took in the studio where they allowed the musicians to play at length with minimal direction, and then cut and spliced the album together in post-production, making for a full document that surprised even the musicians that played on the sessions. The actual sessions are described in great detail, with the "nuts & bolts" data may apply more to fellow musicians, like the time signatures and keys the musicians were playing in during sections of the session, Grella never gets too bogged down in the minutiae and makes this book enjoyable for non-musicians as well. He is also able to place the album in the overall context of jazz and popular music of the period and this makes for a welcome addition. Miles Davis' Bitches Brew - amazon.com

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