As a teen I hated jazz, and I still hate those bearded drunks masturbating to endless brass solos. A retro music museum, as if music turned into sport. How fast can you play? Do you know how to play like a 1950’s herion addict, you state-funded middle class euro-wigger? Or maybe you’re a fuzak elevator pest like Sanborn or Kenny G. who looks like an 80’s Amarni banker licking pussy? I hated jazz, the elitism, the style, the crowd, the mood and the emotions. I hated this record, until I heard it on mushrooms, and then I realized that this record is amongst the most emotionally advanced charged music ever recorded. After Miles played with all the greatest jazz musicians, he found his essential sparse almost cynical metal-tone by first complicating his music, and then stripping it down into one chord, one theme, one elastic fractal groove of endless space and time freed from history making a new genre two times a decade. This record is like a manifesto of avant-garde freeform post-jazz. All jazz-buffs tend to argue on their favourite Miles Davis-period. My pick is the late 60’s, when Miles began to envy the crossover of Hendrix’s free sonic fuzz journeys, James browns tight neo african soul trance drills and Herbie’s Wah Wah Rhodes avant-funk – Which was probably fueled by guru/CIA-decoy Timothy Leary’s LSD. Miles was amongst the coolest and most arrogant mods ever, shagging créme de la créme actresses and models. The chemical climate forced him out of the perfect bum-freezer mohair suits and into some of the wild avant-garde ethno-hippie prince robes, stripping his band for vulgar trad. Guitar and vibes sidestepping normal band formats, best from the Bitches Brew album.
Always a visionary arranger picking the cream of new talents for inspiration, he made the stellar cast of almost autisic players like the poetic drummer jack Dejohnette and the keyboard twin geniuses, Corea and Jarret, whipping up a pre-synth plasma Miles-attack like a frozen supersonic bomber looping in fearless asymmetrical misshapes: this is improvised music with a free form and timbre, due to processing and Teo Marcero’s enginerring and masterful reel to reel tape editing. It’s hard to hear where Airto’s percussion end and the keys overlap, as this is open music as it is played, textually transcending with even the instruments inhabited design, without loosing emotion. It still sounds very modern, a fractal of waves and drama, immersive and in it’s own space. Miles open-structure compositions like the song ”It’s about that time” is showcased in up to four very different versions on this record. After this monument to a new mental and musical freedom, he released a couple of stellar records like ”Live-Evil” and the Stockhausen influenced ”Bitches Brew” and the funky ”On the corner”. Eventually, his genius ego and all that fishscale dust got to the mind of Miles, hiding in a dirty NYC flat trashing escorts and his yellow italian sports car. Squeaky clean kid prodigy muzak master, Marcus miller, then rescued him from his recording excile, and then as a result he cursed the world with poppy albums like ”Decoy” and ”You’re under arrest”. Miles, once the coolest man in the world, ended up almost method-acting as an evil burned out dealer-villain in Miami Vice in his extreme post-Versace afro-memphis-inspired gear. He died shortly after, due to a smashed throat and the after-effects of decades of coke mainlining. Never mind, he lives on in my mushroom flashbacks listening to this masterpiece.
Article by Morten Vammen.