(In Pursuit Of) Cool Sound, Pt. 4

At age 17, I won a scholarship to a summer music camp at University of New Hampshire (Durham), and one of my instructors, Professor David Seiler, raved about this album by Miles Davis called Bitches Brew, for the whole 2 weeks. So I bought the album when I returned home, placed the vinyl disc on the turntable with the greatest of expectations, and then took it off – immediately. There was something spooky about the whole thing, just like when I heard Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” for the first time.

Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1970)

“Bitches Brew” hit me directly in the gut, in a very disturbing way. I simply wasn’t used to hearing music that delved so deeply into untouched, dark, dangerous emotion. Completely different from the Miles I was accustomed to hearing on his releases from “Miles Ahead”, to “Kind Of Blue”, to “Seven Steps To Heaven”. I continued this pattern of interrupted listening, until like, 5 years later or so, I finally achieved some understanding of what was happening. Eventually I came to love the album.

The music opened up my ears to a far wider spectrum of musical expression. Quite possibly less ‘dangerous’ by today’s standards, but then again, thank Miles for this progression. For me, there is life before “Bitches Brew” and life after. The same is probably true for contemporary music history. A monumental album.