Music

The Miles Davis Movie: Filming ‘Bitches Brew’

‘Electric’ Miles is not my favorite chapter in the legend’s musical history, but I’m no less impressed and entertained by the supremely talented musicians associated with some pretty revolutionary recordings – namely Bitches Brew.

I’m torn on how much, if any, movie time in the Miles Davis film is going to be devoted to the years covering the late-’60s to the mid ’70s. Of course we’d get to see Don Cheadle dressed in some wild costumes, but it remains how this chaotic and inventive funk-rock-jazz period for Miles will be represented in the movie.

They could choose to focus primarily on Bitches Brew, a masterpiece in some circles and notable for spinning modern jazz on its head.

It certainly was a time of great change for Miles and jazz music, to say nothing of the culture in general, so clearly we have some drama to mine here for the film.

How much of the actual music they’d feature I don’t know, but to hear something like “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” might be pretty damn cool.

This is a revolutionary recording no matter how you slice it; it all but started the genre known as jazz-rock fusion. And there were some incredible musicians associated with the album: Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, etc.

It’s a fascinating chapter for Miles, and if the film intends to follow Davis’ life right up to the end then obviously they cannot skip over the electric period.

I have already written about Betty Mabry’s inclusion in the film, and there’s a clear link between her influences and Bitches Brew.

There is plenty of opinion about Bitches Brew, the recording and the moment in jazz (music) history it represents. I’d think the Miles Davis movie would be wise to find room for it in the narrative.

When listening to the music of Bitches Brew and the Bitches Brew sessions, space and time tremble, quiver, and become elastic. One moment, you’re traveling rapidly, furiously backward toward the Big Bang—the next, you’ve stopped and hang suspended, a million light years from nowhere, curling dangerously across some cosmic bump.

Then, all at once, you’re surging forth, speed increasing, any ability to gauge time lost in the burn, spinning and tumbling upward, downward, outward. (David Beckman, AAJ)

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