about Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis's ensemble







One of the most serious problems confronted by jazz historians is that, while recordings offer the only tangible evidence we have of the music's development, some of the most important stages in that development were insufficiently recorded. Miles Davis's transitional protofusion period is a case in point. Miles spent a lot of time in the studio in 1969, and he came up with In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, the two albums that are widely credited ― or blamed ― with ushering in the age of jazz-rock fusion. But Miles also spent a lot of time on the road that year, and the music he made with his working band was even more extraordinary than the music on those two remarkable albums. 

ジャズの歴史を学ぶ者達には、面倒な問題が色々と立ちはだかる。その内の1つが、音源だ。音源は唯一、耳に聞こえる形で、私達に音楽の発展を示す。だが、そのいちばん大事な所が、不十分なことがある。その最たる例が、マイルス・デイヴィスだ。従来の音楽スタイルと、新たな取り組みが混じって、それらが一つになる最初の頃である。1969年、マイルスは、多くの時間を録音スタジオで過ごす。その成果「In a Silent Way」「Bitches Brew」の2枚のアルバムは、ジャズとロックが融合しようとしていた時代の魁として、現在も広く評価(あるいは非難)されている。だが、マイルスはその年は、ツアーにも多くの時間を割いていた。当時、彼のバンドのライブ演奏は、先程の2つのアルバムよりも、目覚ましいものだったのだ。 





So exactly what did musically unfold during the period surrounding the recording of Bitches Brew? Until recently, only those who witnessed concerts by Miles Davis's “Lost” Quintet (1968-70; “lost” in the sense that it never completed a studio recording) or accessed bootleg recordings by the group really knew. The only “official” contemporaneous release ― Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East ― represented a recording so dramatically edited as to obscure its essence. 

「Bitches Brew」収録の時代、彼の音楽面で明らかになっていったのは、正確にはどういったところであろうか?つい最近まで、本当にそれを知るのは、実際に、マイルス・デイヴィスのロスト・クインテットのコンサートを見に行ったり(時期的には1968年~70年、実況録音をスタジオでチャンと編集しきらなかったという意味で「ロスト」(失われた)とする)、このバンドの非公式な音源の試聴者だけだ。「公式」の録音として,同時期にリリースされたのが「Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East」だ。音源の編集が凄まじく、彼の音楽の本質が、わかりにくい代物になってしまった。 


So it is that Bitches Brew became the lens through which Miles Davis's work of that period became known. The music certainly confused some musicians and critics. DownBeat's Jim Szantor wrote: “Listening to this double album is, to say the least, an intriguing experience. Trying to describe the music is something else again ― mainly an excercise is futility. Though electronic effects are prominent, art, not gimmickry, prevails and the music protrudes mightily. Music ― most of all music like this ― cannot be adequately described.” 

だから、「Bitches Brew」こそ、マイルス・デイヴィスの当時の音楽を、世に示すレンズのようになったのだ。その音楽は、当時のミュージシャン達や評論家達を混乱させたのは、間違いない。「ダウン・ビート」誌のジム・スザンターによると「一番控えめな言い方をしても、この2枚組アルバムを聴くのは、とてつもなく興味深い。何度も言うが、この音楽の説明を試みるのは、大変だ。何と言っても、そんな行為は軽率だからだ。確かに電子面は卓越している。だが、それを上回るのが芸術面、つまり、巧妙で目新しい装置ではどうにもならない部分だ。そういう音楽の多くは、言葉では説明し尽くせないのである。 


Some critics referenced Bitches Brew as the signal event initiating a fusion of rock and jazz, a perspective that added more heat than light. Stanley Crouch spoke of “static beats and clutter,” while John Litweiler emphasized a “gravitational pull of the modern rock beat.” Yet the multiplicity of rhythmic layers and the intersections of cross rhythms within Bitches Brew and Miles Davis at Fillmore display few conventions of rock music. The slowly unfolding solos and unconventional mode of accompaniment suggest a different picture, as Langdon Winner wrote in Rolling Stone: “Dave Holland's bass and Jack DeJohnette's drums lay down the amorphous rhythmic patterns for Mile's electrified sound. To put it briefly, these chaps have discovered a new way to cook, a way that seems just as natural and just as swinging as anything jazz has ever known.” 

評論家によっては、「Bitches Brew」は、ロックとジャズの融合が始まった「のろし」だと言う。ただ、この見方は、正しい理解よりも酷い非難を巻き起こした。スタンリー・クラウチは「活気のないビートと重みのなさ」とした。ジョン・リットワイラーは「今時のロックのビートは、重力のように引っ張られる感がある」と強く訴えた。でも、「Bitches Brew」も「Miles Davis at Fillmoare」も、リズムの積み重ね方や楽器間の交差の仕方は、多様性にあふれ、ロックミュージックの因習など、ほとんど感じさせない。「ローリング・ストーン」誌のランクドン・ウィナーは、ゆっくりと展開してゆく各ソロや、古臭さなど全く無い伴奏の雰囲気は、それまでの音楽とは全く違う風景を示す、という「マイルスの電子装置を通したサウンドに、デイヴ・ホランドのベースと、ジャック・ディジョネットのドラムが、型破りなリズムパターンが、堂々示されている。手短に言えば、彼らは新たな調理法を発見したのだ。過去のいかなるジャズ音楽と全く同じ次元で、無理のない、ノリの良い方法である。」 


A goal of this book is to explore how Davis's recorded performances from 1968 through 1970 illuminate the unfolding of his musical thinking during a period of personal transition. I will suggest the following: a careful listening reveals music that privileged an uneasy dynamic tension between sonic and structural openness, surprise, and experimentation and the rhythmic groove (which includes but doesn't overly favor beat-driven rock and funk elements).  



When viewed in this way, new webs of musical interconnection emerge. I am not suggesting a lack of continuity between the Lost Quintet and Miles Davis's subsequent funk-inflected bands. Yet by observing the more abstract, open aspects of the work of Miles Davis during this period, the listener can place the Lost Quintet within the context of highly exploratory bands, including Circle (cofounded by two members of the Lost Quintet) and the Revolutionary Ensemble. 



Exploring these little-documented sister bands is my second goal. Certainly, they deserve a broader listening public, something I hope this book can help encourage. Thus, I narrate at some length their evolution, and describe and interpret their music with concrete examples. Yet if my purpose were simply to discuss Circle and the Revolutionary Ensemble, I would do so in a separate book. My reasoning here is to offer sufficient musical background and context about them to better understand a context that sheds new light on Miles Davis's own work, with the Lost Quintet. 




A proper introduction requires more extensive narration, found in chapter 3, where we meet reed player Anthony Braxton and trace his journey with fellow members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians ― particularly jazz violinist and violist Leroy Jenkins ― from Chicago to Paris to New York; Braxton's encounter and tour with Musica Elettronica Viva; and then his meeting the Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Barry Altschul trio that invited him to join, forming Circle. Jenkins, now in New York, cofounded the Revolutionary Ensemble. 



The musical world these musicians inhabited was intimately, interpersonally interconnected. From his Chicago days, Braxton was friends with Miles Davis's Lost Quintet drummer Jack DeJohnette. Both men were AACM members, as was Jenkins. When Braxton joined the musical collective band Circle, he partnered with the two other members of the Davis rhythm section. Within the same building where this pair lived was an existing collective organization that included members of future Davis bands. Few steps of separation lay between Braxton, Jenkins, Davis, and some of the others. Translating these connections from mere anecdote to significance requires articulating musical and social meaning. 




Core musical values shared by Circle and the Revolutionary Ensemble drew from the pioneering work of the AACM, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, and most significantly Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. Miles Davis paid close attention to Coltrane's every move, but as we will see in chapter 1, as soon as Coleman arrived in New York City in 1959, Davis was profoundly influenced by his ideas as well. We palpably hear the results in the 1960s Daivs Quintet's increasingly collective improvisations beginning in 1965. In this vein, Davis biographer Eric Nisenson observes of Bitches Brew: “The climax of 'Pharaoh's Dance,' while Miles states and re-states the primary theme, the rest of the band reaches a cacophonous frenzy that is obviously an echo of [Coleman's] 'Free Jazz' or [Coltrane's collective improvisation] 'Ascension' at their most mind-bendingly intense.” Nisenson also suggests affinities between Davis's approach to modality in “Bitches Brew” the tune and that of Coltrane's later work such as “Kulu Se Mama,” and in the improvising over pedal point and the use of two bassists, one serving as the anchor, the other player far more freely, the classic 'India' or later Coltrane's version of 'Nature Boy.'” It is in this light that critic Leonard Feather observed of Davis: “He is creating a new and more complex form, drawing from the avant-garde, atonalism, modality, rock, jazz and the universe. It has no name, but some listeners have called it 'Space Music.' 

サークル、そしてレヴォリューショナリー・アンサンブルの両者が、その核となる音楽観として共有しているもの源泉は、時代の先端を常に行く取り組みをしているAACM、とりわけ、セシル・テイラー、サン・ラ、更にはオーネット・コールマンジョン・コルトレーンだ。マイルス・デイビスは、コルトレーンの所作を注意深く見ていた。だが、第1章で述べる通り、1959年にコールマンがニューヨークへやってくると、彼の音楽観にも深く影響を受ける。その成果がハッキリと聞き取れるのが、1960年代のデイヴィスのクインテットの演奏だ。1965年に始まったとされる、「集団で寄ってたかってインプロヴィゼーションを行う」というものである。どんなものだったのか、デイヴィスの自叙伝を手掛けるエリック・ニセンソンは、「Bitches Brew」を次のように分析する「Pharaoh's Dance」が最高潮に達する所では、マイルス・デイビスが第1主題を、再三に渡り演奏すると、バックのバンドは協和音が崩れ、狂乱状態に陥る。これは明らかに、影響をもたらした元凶が知れている。それは、コールマンの「フリー・ジャズ」であり、コルトレーンが「集団でのインプロヴィゼーション」を用いて、精神崩壊を起こすような気の詰め様で演奏した「Ascension」であろう。」またニセンソンは、2つのものの密接な関係を指摘している。1つは、デイヴィスの「Bitches Brew」の収録曲や、コルトレーンの後期の作品(例:Kulu Se Mama)における音楽形式に対するアプローチ。もう1つは、最低音の持続音を土台としてインプロヴィゼーションを行い、そのためにベース奏者を2人導入すること(1人は文字通り土台として、これに対し別の1人は自由に弾かせる)。定番の「India」やコルトレーンが後期に「Nature Boy」を演奏した時のバージョンがそれに当たる。この観点から、評論家のレオナルド・フェザーは、デイヴィスを次のように分析する「彼が創造するのは、今までにない、そしてより複雑な音楽形式だ。アヴァンギャルド、無調音楽、様式性、ロックやジャズ、そしてとにかく、ありとあらゆる所が源泉となっている。名前なぞ存在しないが、人によっては「宇宙の音楽」と称されることもある。 


Yet these are musical details, and music is more than that. As a form of human expression, music is as much about the society that people create and inhabit as it is about pure sound. Each of these three bands existed within a distinct social and economic context, and these settings suggest differentiation as much as the band's aesthetics point to resonances. Chapter 8 will summarize my third goal in writing this book, presented throughout the text, by identifying profound distance that lay between Miles Davis and the Revolutionary Ensemble in their placement within the musical economy. This includes access to financial resources, recording contracts, and bookings, and the ability to reach an interested public. No matter how abstract Davis's chosen music might be, it would never have to inhabit small loft spaces rather than substantial concert hall, or suffer a lack in recordings rather than have steady studio access with guaranteed record releases. The gap between these musical worlds is vast.   



Circle was able to straddle a free-form aesthetic while performing on the jazz circuit, largely due to the association of half its band members with Miles Davis. This access, however, exposed Anthony Braxton, who did not identify himself as a jazz player (although he was then appearing on the jazz circuit), to the hostility of critics. The economic relationships and realities are important. Yet they should not detract from my thesis that from an aesthetic perspective the differences collapse. 




In his original liner notes to Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, critic Ralph Gleason wrote: 

マイルス・デイビスの「Bitches Brew」のオリジナルのライナーノーツを記したラルフ・グリーソンは、次のように書いている。 


and sometimes I think maybe what we need is to tell people that this is here because somehow in this plasticized world they have the automatic reflex that if something is labeled one way then that is all there is in it and we are always finding out to our surprise that there is more to Blake or more to Ginsberg or more to Trane or more to Stravinsky than whatever it was we thought was there in the first place. 



So be it with the music we have called jazz and which I never knew what it was because it was so many different things to so many different people each apparently contradicting the other and one day I flashed that it was music. 



That's all, and when it was great music it was great art and it didn't have anything at all to do with labels and who says Mozart is by definition better than Sonny Rollins and to whom. 




So Lenny Bruce said there is only what is and that's a pretty good basis for a start. This music is. This music is new. This music is new music and it hits me like an electric shock and the word “electric” is interesting because the music is to some degree electric music either by virtue of what you can do with tapes and by the process by which it is preserved on tape or by the use of electricity in the actual making of the sounds themselves. 





Gleason's conception of music beyond labels unites Miles Davis's work from 1968 through 1970 with kindred spirits ― among them Circle and the Revolutionary Ensemble. Indeed, all “this music is new music,” music that draws its expressive power from the legacy of Ornette Coleman, among others. While previous writers have generally treated Davis's electric ensembles from the perspective of biographical narrative, it is my hope to offer a close, comparative look at the music itself and the musical relationships between players. In this way, the attentive listener can discover oft-obscured deep interconnections that uncover the profound originality of this important body of work.