Source Material: Miles Davis, Bitches Brew

Some 40 years after its release, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew still seethes with revolutionary energy, at once sinister and stony. A groundbreaking intellectual exercise to divorce the trumpeter from his '60s work, this opus, released in 1970, ironically became his most popular recording to date. As Davis plugged in and careened headlong into his most controversial period, he allowed funk and psychedelic rock records to influence his writing, challenged the standards of instrumentation (two bass players? electric piano? distorted guitar?), and defined the sonic textures of the next decade's fusion movement.

Historians have pinned some of Davis' newfound interest in the rock charts to then-girlfriend and soon-to-be second wife Betty Mabry (later Betty Davis). In addition to having a career as a soul singer herself, she had also been a teen model who dated Hendrix and Sly Stone.

Whatever his motivation, much of the magic in Bitches Brew comes from Davis' bold vision and the fluid interchange of its personnel. He included several rising talents in the session, including bass clarinetist Bennie Maupin (later a member of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters), keyboardist Joe Zawinul (who later founded Weather Report with longtime Davis collaborator Wayne Shorter) and electric bassist Harvey Brooks. The recording also features the debut of then 19-year-old drummer Lenny White. Over just three days in August 1969, Davis and his band tracked six tunes that would forever change jazz. Here's where the music came from.

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