Bitches Brew LIVE! - A Miles Davis Tribute
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Bitches Brew LIVE! - A Miles Davis Tribute

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Band Jazz Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew – Loud and Lovely"

Sunday, December 20, 8 PM
Wealthy Theatre, 1110 Wealthy Street SE

A few months ago, a Facebook invite to a special one-night-only concert popped in my mailbox and immediately I inked my calendar in bold. No other local show has generated or had as much pressure placed on it this year as the complete live performance of Miles Davis’ 1969 classic Bitches Brew.

For those who have only experienced Miles by way of Starbucks’ constant programming of his iconic Kind of Blue recording, you might want to slam back an extra shot of the real stuff before sitting down at Wealthy Theatre this Sunday.

While Miles at the time of the Bitches Brew recording was known primarily for his bebop and “cool” jazz, it was this electric fusion composition that would set the jazz world up on end and solidify Miles as a master of music innovation. While he was not the first to employ this fusion technique, he was the one who did it best.

The double album recording is heavily influenced by the emerging acid rock and funk scene of the late 1960s and was ground-breaking, not only due to the epic length of these compositions but because Miles was ahead of his time in inventing new recording techniques..

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of this epic recording, it is refreshing to see this LP with its psychedelic artwork has not gone the dusty way of the 8 Track and is being revived for the stage at Wealthy Theatre for one night only.

Sure, it is a risky move, but in the hands of talented local musicians like Randy Marsh, Tom Lockwood, Bob Van Stee, Paul Lesinski, Corey Ruffin, Mike Dodge, Max Lockwood, Josh Dunigan, Alex Hamel, and Chris Lawrence, they might just pull it off. (Breaking News: Early rehearsals indicate stunning progress!)

And if they do, you can be sure that come Monday, the water cooler will be divided by those who attended and those who will eternally be tormented with the “I should’ve been there” inner dialogue.

Admission: $12. General Admission
- Tommy Allen/Rapid Growth

"A Miracle Occured Last Night"

21 Dec 09 Monday 19:29

a miracle occured last night...
Current mood: impressed
Category: Music

a bunch of guys, mostly of european dissent, played jazz in grand rapids, and it didn't suck. in fact, it was good, really good. i couldn't believe it. a group of western michigan's most talented musicians got together and took on an ambitious task: covering Miles Davis' Bitches Brew for the 40th anniversary of it's release (which is kind of like saying your going to punch god in the face). simply embarking on an undertaking with this kind of pressure is a commendable feat, but to pull it off so magnificently is astonishing. no one was expecting the "wall of sound" to be as perfect as it was, this best illustrated by the reaction to the unnamed group's first song performed from the album, pharaohs dance. at the trumpets first moan my heart nearly stopped, i couldn't believe they were actually doing it. by the songs conclusion, which was met with thundering applause, whistles, and hollers, Alex Hamel spoke into a microphone. "that was pharaohs dance" he said, to which one audience member replied, "Wow!". the applause erupted again, clearly we'd reached a consensus. the night moved along with each band member (there were nine) having his moment to shine. Randy Marsh on drums was an early hero, creating intensely unique and chaotic fills and elaborations at seemingly every available moment. Tom Lockwood showed his versatility on both the upright bass and woodwind instruments, always in time, crisp, and original. watching Hugo Clavin on percussion was like watching Jackson Pollock paint; while he appeared to lack confidence as he threw the colors haphazardly on the canvas, everything always came out just right. Chris Lawrence had the undesirable job of being white and playing Miles in front of a live audience, which flirts with the borderline between brave and stupid. in perhaps the most unbelievable miracle of the night (there were several), he did it, and left all of us with a humble sense of respect for his ability to get the job done. Corey Eno Ruffin on bass clarinet (also known as Mr. Happy Pants as early as one night before, on the very same stage) put any doubts about his seriousness as a musician to rest with his eclectic and unconventional improvisations, which alone would have sounded borderline ridiculous, but with the band behind him, fit right in. And it's this point that really gets at the heart of the performance: each member was talented, but the group as a whole was moving in an almost spiritual way. they channeled that band from the late sixties that none of us expected them to be able to emulate, let alone encapsulate. early word says this band plans to play again in the future, where they will take on other releases that changed the face of music forever. i think they should rewrite the health care bill, stop global warming, and free tibet, but what do i know? - Joshua McClusky/"White Noise"

"A group of local jazz musicians re-create, in their own style, Miles Davis's"

A group of local jazz musicians re-create, in their own style, Miles Davis's "Bitches Brew"

By Nicole Corley | On-the-Town
December 13, 2009, 5:00PM

Forty years ago, Miles Davis and nine other prominent musicians recorded an improvisational live album called Bitches Brew. For years, it would be debated, loved, criticized, dismissed, and revered. Now, local professional jazz musicians are celebrating the anniversary by re-creating what it would’ve been like to sit in on that recording session.

Marked by many as a turning point in jazz, Bitches Brew is improv, heavy on musician interaction, free jazz with a groove—and two piano players, two bassists, and two drummers.
“It’s taken me years to listen inside of it and hear all the pieces,” said Alex Hamel, music director of the show. “When you first put it on, it’s confusing, but it’s grown on me over the years because of the way they interact. The album is kind of muddy. I’ve always wished you could just hear it better. I wanted to hear this music live in a room.”

But wait a minute. What does “re-creating” do to improv? “We’re not trying to cover it exactly,” Hamel said. “We want to re-create the environment and present the sketches the songs are based on and play them in that order. We don’t really know where it’s going to go, but that’s one of the exciting parts. We’ll try to keep it reminiscent of the sound and vibe of the album.”

Re-creating Bitches Brew is an intimidating endeavor. In fact, this could be considered the greatest attempt to re-create the environment of the album,” Hamel said. Perhaps because it’s so well known or perhaps because many people hesitate to lay claim to it. “I’d always been sad that this album was an underdog. People call it untouchable just because somebody played it once on a Saturday morning in 1969. I view it as a style of music people can explore, not just something that existed only one weekend.”

The cast of West Michigan’s 2009 version of Bitches Brew includes the talented Steve Talaga, Randy Marsh, Corey Eno Ruffin, Hamel, Tom Lockwood, Paul Lesinski, Mike Dodge, Josh Dunigan, and Chris Lawrence. “We’ve got the heavyweights in town,” Hamel said.

“We’re all trying to do a service to an album that really impacted our lives. I just want people to come experience it. Come hear what it would’ve sounded like with the huge sound and the collective improvisations.”

The Bitches Brew Fortieth Anniversary concert is December 20 at the Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy SE. Tickets start at $12. For more information, visit - Nicole Corley/On The Town


DVD/CD of our first and only concert to date, December 20th, 2009. Radio play of this concert forthcoming.



The group was originally formed in the late fall of 2009 for the purpose of presenting a one-time tribute for Miles Davis' album Bitches Brew, simply titled "Bitches Brew LIVE!"

Held on December 20th, 2009, the concert was such a huge success locally, and so rewarding for the musicians, that we are now seeking further performance opportunities to share our love and vision for large ensemble, electric improvisation.

There have been other fusion projects and other Miles Davis tributes, but they all seemed to miss a certain element: the right combination of both deep funk and free improvisation. Miles sought to meld his sensibility for interaction and spontaneity with the throbbing pulse and insistent bass of funk, rock and soul. Most projects are either too cerebral or too funky, we strive to balance a lively dialogue between these two poles.

The group is comprised of West Michigan's foremost improvisers, each contributing a unique voice to the mix. The key to a group sound like this is in the casting of the right personalities, and how they interact. The focus is not on chops and speed, but rather on team playing and empathy. This is a music of listening. We present deep group explorations, weaving funk and free, atmosphere and heavy rhythm, all anchored by a earthy, solid groove.

The percussion and keyboards swirl around inimitable bass lines as guitars and horns dance over the top.

Thank you!