Jazz collective ‘London Brew’ honors legacy of Miles Davis

American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis (1926-1991) performs live on stage in Berlin, West Germany in November 1973. Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

Miles Davis’ 1970 album Bitches Brew marked a considerable departure from the “cool jazz” sound he helped to define with his landmark 1959 LP Kind Of Blue. Davis was always one to push boundaries, and with Bitches Brew he did just that — using electronic instruments; forming a style that incorporated rock and funk in addition to jazz; and even making post-production edits to further shape his ambitious new sound. While many contemporaneous jazz purists initially balked, the album is now considered one of Davis’ seminal works. The influence of Bitches Brew is widely felt in electronic dance music, hip-hop, and the work of contemporary alt-jazz artists like Thundercat, Kamasi Washington, and Robert Glasper

The new project London Brew takes this influence up a notch. The 12-piece band consisting of Benji B, Raven Bush, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia, Tom Herbert, Shabaka Hutchings, Nikolaj Torp Larsen, Dave Okumu, Nick Ramm, Dan See, Tom Skinner and Martin Terefe are all key players in London’s thriving young jazz scene. Together as London Brew, this collective has taken the core spirit of improvisation and barrier-breaking inherent in Davis’ work to craft an eponymous tribute album all their own, very much in line with the 2020s.

London Brew executive producer Bruce Lampcov joins KCRW to share the day job development that led him to spearhead the project, the wrench they were thrown by early COVID lockdowns, and the catharsis that came from finally getting all of these players into the same room and letting them cook.