When I was a wee teen, my friend Will bought Isle of Wight: Atlanta Pop Festival. It was a three LP collection, containing tracks by an eclectic mix of people from Johnny Winter to Sly & the Family Stone to Kris Kristofferson. As I recall, I didn’t especially care for anything on that album except for David Bromberg’s wonderful version of “Mr Bojangles.” But I especially hated a 17 minute jam by Miles Davis, “Call It Anything’.” It just sounded like noise to me.
One of the great joys of life has been to experience my gradual maturation of music appreciation. I’ve had the same experience with Frank Zappa. When I was young, I hated his guitar playing, but now I think it is marvelous (even if I’m not in the mood for it that often). And the same thing is true of Davis’ later work. This is the Bitches Brew period, and now I love it. In this live video from Isle of Wight in August of 1970, Davis is performing with quite a band. It includes the original Bitches Brew crew: Chick Corea on electric piano, Jack DeJohnette on drums, Dave Holland on bass with parts that seem designed to cause hand cramping, and Airto Moreira doing some unnatural things with percussion. In addition, there is Keith Jarrett on organ and Gary Bartz on soprano saxophone (Wayne Shorter was on the original album). This 35 minute set made up the majority (tracks 4 through 9) of Bitches Brew Live. It’s wonderful music.