Nope, not Bette Davis, an ass-kicking woman in her own right. This is about Betty Davis, born Betty Mabry, who married and divorced none other than Miles Davis in 1968/69, during which time she introduced the trumpet master to the music of Hendrix and Sly Stone; in his memoir Miles credited Betty with sparking the direction his music would take in the 1970s. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Miles’ legendary 1970 album Bitches Brew is unimaginable without the contributions of Betty Davis.
Betty Davis released three incredibly vital funk albums in the mid-1970s: Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different, and Nasty Gal—all three albums have been rescued from unjust obscurity by Light in the Attic Records. In 2009 Light in the Attic also put out Is It Love or Desire, a full album Betty Davis recorded in 1976 that had never been released.
Now Light in the Attic is back with more Betty Davis treasures—the centerpiece being previously unreleased music from sessions at Columbia’s 52nd Street Studios on May 14 and 20, 1969, sessions at which Miles Davis and Teo Macero served as the producers. The impressive lineup of musicians who participated included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, and Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. During the session the musicians covered Cream and Creedence Clearwater Revival and recorded originals by Betty. However, the songs have never been released—until now.
Remastered from the original analog master tapes, the album—released this week—is called Betty Davis: The Columbia Years 1968-1969. True to its title, the album also includes a Los Angeles session from 1968 that featured the great Hugh Masekela and members of the Crusaders.
More after the jump…