Miles Davis' music has always been a feast for the ears, but now it can reach all five senses: hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting.
It's the release of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" in a "40th Anniversary Collector's Edition" box set that inspired the album's new sensory explorations. The set comes with a 48-page book; three CDs (two CDs containing the original 94-plus minutes of music with six bonus tracks); a third CD with a previously unreleased concert by Davis' group with Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and Gary Bartz at Tanglewood in August 1970; a DVD of a previously unreleased show with the Miles' Quintet lineup in Copenhagen in November 1969; and a pure analog (no digital processing whatsoever) 180-gram double-LP set. There's also a reprint of a terrific Rolling Stone magazine interview with Davis from December 13, 1969, and Miles had a lot on his mind. The man didn't hold back!
The "40th Anniversary Collector's Edition" packaging is sumptuous, and the DVD's performances are really exciting, but it was the LPs that really got my mojo working. Man, the sound is reach-out-and-touch real; vinyl is the best way to connect with Davis' special magic. That said, I think the new CDs sound a bit better than the CDs in my 1998 "The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions" set.
So you could touch, see, and hear "Bitches Brew" for 40 years, but now, thanks to Dogfish Head Craft Brewery you can smell and even taste it! Right, it's the "Bitches Brew" brew, which they describe as "...a bold, dark beer that's a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root." I guess that's beer connoisseur lingo for great beer, but when I checked it out while listening to the record, the deep-brown brew was the perfect complement to the music. It's powerful stuff, and it tasted just as fine with White Stripes blasting from the hi-fi. What can I say, everything sounds better after drinking the brew.
I suppose you could download the "Bitches Brew" album and just hear the music, but you have to buy the 40th Anniversary set to get the graphics and other extras. The Dogfish Brew is definitely not a downloadable, instant-gratification deal, but it'll taste great with or without musical accompaniment.
"Bitches" is just one album, but the new box, "The Genius of Miles Davis" collects 43 CDs from the "Metal Spine" series in a custom-made, individually numbered limited-edition trumpet case. Only 1955 (the year Davis signed to Columbia Records) box sets will be available worldwide. The box also includes a trumpet mouthpiece replica of the 'Gustat' Heim 2 model used by Davis; a fine art lithograph by Davis; and a "boutique-worthy" T-shirt with an image of Davis playing his horn. Davis never made a bad record, and the box would be a great holiday gift for any serious jazz fan.