The greatest selling modern jazz record of all time!
Kind of Blue, recorded March 2, and April 22, 1959 is certainly a timeless classic of American music, and I have often thought of it as a culmination of every style of music Miles did up until that point.
Since Kind of Blue which was released in August of 1959 is widely considered by most a jazz masterpiece, it has been written about so many times, it’s hard to say anything unique about the subject.
Sometimes an album can be so over hyped that it loses its luster, but in this case, no amount of praise could be regarded as hyperbole.
You need Kind of Blue in your music collection period.
Kind of Blue has elements of bop and cool jazz, elements of hard bop, and even the Gil Evans Orchestral music vibe is well covered within Kind of Blue.
I have also felt Kind of Blue works as a mood music album as well, anyone, from whatever the background or ethic group, can appreciate the easy-going, laid back style of Kind of Blue.
Consider this, only a few hours before these sessions were to be played. Miles came in with rough sketches for the other band members to play from.
Other than a second take of “Flamenco Sketches” that became the master, each of these tracks were first takes. It was the first time any of the musicians played any of the tunes before. Astounding.
There is something about the opening bass notes and Bill Evans’ piano, stating the call and Miles Davis providing the response with his trumpet. “So What” starts the stroll down the vintage New York thoroughfare circa 1959. When you really think about it. what tune in modern jazz epitomizes the music more than “So what”?
“Freddie Freeloader” sort of always seemed like an extension of “So What” to me.The track does use Pianist Wynton Kelly rather than Bill Evans who plays the rest of the albums tracks. Kelly does have a lighter Bluesier approach than Evans. Miles stated that Bill Evans had a quiet fire within his playing.
Blue in Green
On “Blue in Green,” thoughts of mournful loss, and coming to terms with it hits me between the eyes. Miles and his brittle muted tone, cuts right through, and removes any hint of pretension. Miles lyricism is on full display throughout “Blue in Green”.
If “So What” was a walk down 52nd Street at night,”All Blues” is a strut up and down in the daylight, with a stop to smell the roses along the way. A very uplifting piece after the somber “Blue in Green”.
“Flamenco Sketches is the track that often times gets lost in the shuffle on Kind of Blue, a gorgeous major and minor scale ballad, that ebbs and flows back and forth between the two flavors. The musicians improvise off of 5 separate scales. Cannonball Adderley really sparkles on this track. If you’re indeed only as strong as your weakest link, then Flameco Sketches proves the mastery of Kind of Blue.
The pinnacle of modern jazz
It’s obvious to any jazz fan, Kind of Blue is the pinnacle of instrumental modern jazz. The music is both revolutionary, and contemporary. It is easy to listen to, but challenging enough for those who prefer a thought-provoking style of music.
Nearly 60 years later Kind of Blue still sounds modern, it rivals the best classical compositions. I suspect hundreds of years from now, the album will be considered along side Beethoven or Bach as masterpieces of music.
I do think it is amazing how this music still has the power to shape a person’s musical listening journey. It surely shaped mine, it changed everything for me.
I vividly remember where I was that first listen: In a parked car in the parking lot of Border’s Books and Music, at night waiting out a thunderstorm. I went home and played it again, and again…
Within 6 Months, I had every single Miles Davis album I could get on CD, and within 10 years I had everything on Vinyl. It has now been more than 20 years since that first experience…ironically Kind of Blue is not even my favorite Davis record. Guess what is?
I couldn’t imagine life without the music of Miles Davis.
Kind of Blue truly is one of those times that the music does live up to the hype.
*Photos used with permission via Amazon.com.*
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Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.