Saturday, December 05, 2009

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Miles Davis, the electric years

In recent weeks, this Saturday video feature has been focusing almost exclusively on previewing musicians who are coming to St. Louis in the near future. Today, let's change pace - it's been at least six months since we've featured any Miles Davis video here, and in that time, some interesting new things featuring the trumpeter have come online. We've also dug up a couple of older clips from Miles' electric period that have not been seen here before.

First up is a version of "Bitches Brew" recorded in 1969 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The album of the same name wouldn't be released until the following year, so the lucky Danes in the audience were getting an early look and listen to part of what would become one of Miles' best-known and most influential recordings.

For the next clip down below, we fast-forward to 1973, and the searching quality of the 1969 performance has given way to a more aggressive, almost atonal funk in an excerpt from a concert in Berlin titled "Live Electric & Brutal."

The third video is from a mid-1980s VH1 program called New Visions, and features Davis talking, sketching, showing off his artwork and providing intros for some music videos.

Batting cleanup is a rare clip showing Davis and blues guitarist and singer B.B. King on stage together in 1973, with Miles noodling for a couple minutes over some ballad changes. (Anyone recognize the tune?) While this is noteworthy more for its novelty value than for any musical virtues, one can't help but wonder what interesting variations on the blues might have been produced if B.B. and Miles had decided to collaborate at greater length.

UPDATE, 12:30 a.m., 12/9/09: StLJN reader "donmalcholm" identifies the tune in the Miles/B.B. video as "Guess Who," noting that it's "a Jesse Belvin number that B.B. King frequently includes in his set." Thanks!

(For more on all things Miles, check out Jeff Hyatt's fine site Miles Davis Online.)

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