8.19-21, 1969: Bitches Brew Sessions

Given the rapid evolution of the quintet across the first half of 1969, it’s no surprise that the band we hear on July 27th at Rutgers sounds remarkably different from the one featured on the next available tape, October 26th (upcoming). The change agent being, of course, the three-day sessions at Columbia Studio B on August 19, 20 and 21st that produced the Bitches Brew LP. 

Though the focus of this series is on Miles’ live performances from 69-75, the impact of that session on his live output was so immediate and long-lasting that providing context feels necessary. It’s also just incredible to hear this album being created before our ears. 

Here’s what I wrote about this 2-disc set of session tapes back in 2007:

Aside from being among the most powerful statements in the history of recorded music, Miles Davis’ 1969 Bitches Brew LP also stands as a testament to the incredible editing work of the album’s producer, Teo Macero. Throughout three studio sessions on August 19-21, 1969, Miles led ensembles of up to 13 musicians through numerous song sketches, bizarre atonal experiments and dense polyrhythmic vamps that forced them to listen closely to one another and allow the music to take on a life of its own. In some of the quieter moments you can actually hear Miles giving instructions by snapping his fingers to set the tempo, telling individuals where to solo, or, in his distinctive whisper, saying, “Keep it tight”; indicating that all the while he and Macero maintained a clear picture of how they would fuse these sections into cohesive compositions. Considering this method of recording, the resulting LP is nothing short of astonishing.

Going well beyond the expansive Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box set, Deep Brew, Volumes 1 & 2 collects nearly all of the material recorded during those August sessions. Amazing stuff.

Download the tape