Category: Miles Davis

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Albums Released In 1961

Miles Ahead

On this day in music history: March 30, 1970 – “Bitches Brew”, the thirty third album by Miles Davis is released. Produced by Teo Macero, it is recorded at Columbia Studio B in New York City from August 19-21, 1969. Ushering in his “Electric Period” with the release of the groundbreaking “In A Silent Way” in July of 1969, Miles Davis continues to move further into that musical territory. Maintaining Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone), John McLaughlin (guitar), Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul (electric piano, organ), and Dave Holland (bass), Davis brings several new musicians into the fold. They include Jack DeJohnette, Lenny White (drums), Bennie Maupin (bass clarinet), Harvey Brooks (bass), Larry Young (electric piano), Airto Moreira, Don Alias and Juma Santos (percussion), Davis begins rehearsals, bringing in “sketches” of new material. Miles tells the musicians to “play anything that they like”, as long as they follow the chords and tempo he lays down. Entering Columbia Records’ Studio B on August 19, 1969, the first session begins at 10 am. Giving the band only minimal instructions, Miles allows them to improvise while following his often audible cues. He uses multiple bassists, keyboard players, drummers and percussionists on the tracks. Davis’ own playing differs from anything he’s done before, often playing in an upper register in contrasting fast runs and short explosive bursts of his horn. Producer Teo Macero then extensively edits and reconstructs the songs, adding effects, and creating tape loops that repeat certain sections. On November 14, 1969, Macero sends a memo to CBS Records, with the now famous statement, “Miles just called and said he wants this album to be titled "BITCHES BREW”. Please advise. Teo". Artist Mati Klarwein is commissioned to create the now iconic surreal cover artwork. With its unique combination of jazz, funk and rock, “Bitches Brew” receives glowing reviews from many music critics (with liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason), greatly expanding Miles Davis’ audience. Though it also has its detractors, with jazz purists unable to grasp its sprawling and experimental nature. In spite of this, it becomes Davis’ biggest selling and highest charting album to date. It wins the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance – Large Group Or Soloist With Large Group in 1971. Regarded as one of the most influential jazz albums of all time, “Bitches Brew” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. In 1998, it’s reissued as the 4 CD box set “The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions”. It is also reissued on vinyl numerous times, most recently by Sony Music’s Legacy division in 2020. “Bitches Brew” spends twelve weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Jazz album chart, number four on the R&B album chart, number thirty five on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Albums Released In 1958

Vintage Jazz Concert Posters

  1. Sylvan Gardens (Sand Lake, Michigan) – July 21, 1933

  2. Riverview Ballroom (Neponset, Massachusetts) – August 9, 1935

  3. State Theater (Hartford, Connecticut) – March 10, 1943

  4. Sacramento Auditorium (Sacramento, California) – March 1, 1949
  5. Memorial Auditorium (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – September 15, 1954

  6. Town Hall (New York, New York) – October 30, 1954
  7. Sports Arena (Toledo, Ohio) – January 15, 1956
  8. Regal Theater (Chicago, Illinois) – August 14, 1959

  9. Regal Theater (Chicago, Illinois) – December 25-31, 1959 

  10. Kleinhans Music Hall (Buffalo, New York) – April 30, 1961

Sallie Blair

(1934 – 1992)

was an African-American jazz singer from Baltimore. She began her career singing with Johnny Otis and Duke Ellington in the early 1950s before she won the talent competition Chance of a Lifetime on ABC-TV. Soon after she joined Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Revue and then became a popular nightclub act. Sallie was a reoccurring performer on Ed Sullivan’s shows and was rumored to have had an affair with him. She performed for the royal family at the London Palladium and broke protocall by kicking off her shoes and doing a sexy barefoot dance. Although Sallie released two albums as a solo artist, Squeeze Me (1957) and Hello, Tiger! (1958), she was more known for her beauty and sex appeal. Sallie often changed her hair color, but early in her career she was known for being a blonde. The press referred to her as the  "blonde bombshell” and Miles Davis called her the “brown Marilyn Monroe.” She married pianist and arranger Rene DeKnight in 1963 and still appeared on TV throughout the the 1960s as her popularity waned. In 1978, Sallie was linked to Warren Beatty then she disappeared from the public. She died at the age of 57 in 1992.

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Funk singer Betty Davis with her husband Miles Davis in front of one of his paintings at their home in New York City, October 1969.

Photos by Baron Wolman

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