MILES DAVIS — Kind of Blue

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MILES DAVIS - Kind of Blue cover
4.83 | 139 ratings | 12 reviews
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Album · 1959

Filed under Cool Jazz


A1 So What 8:56
A2 Freddie Freeloader 9:32
A3 Blue In Green 5:27
B1 All Blues 11:34
B2 Flamenco Sketches 9:32

CD bonus:
6. Flamenco Sketches (alternate take) (9:32)

Total Time: 55:25


Alto Saxophone – Cannonball Adderley (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2)
Bass – Paul Chambers
Drums – Jimmy Cobb
Piano – Bill Evans (tracks: A1, A3 to B2), Wynton Kelly (tracks: A2)
Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
Trumpet – Miles Davis

About this release

Columbia – CS 8163(US)

Recorded 02/03/1959 and 22/04/1959

Sony CD Reissue in 1997 includes 1 bonus track

Thanks to silent way, Abraxas, dreadpirateroberts, snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

In the first two months of the year 1959 several significant things occurred. Alaska became the 49th state of the union, Fidel Castro became the head honcho in Cuba and, on February 3rd, Buddy Holly (along with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper) perished in a plane crash in Iowa. It was a tragic event, to be sure, and a popular song it later inspired caused it to become known as “the day the music died.” If that’s so it didn’t stay inert for long. Early in March Miles Davis took his immensely talented sextet into the studio for the first of two sessions that would forever alter the direction of not just jazz but music in general. One might rightly refer to 3/2/59 as the “day the music rose again” in a new form. We all know that perfection is impossible to achieve this side of heaven but Miles and his posse came awfully close on “Kind of Blue.” There’s a reason that albums such as this one are so universally revered and honored. It is a masterpiece. In my book that word means something that cannot be improved upon. This record can’t.

Davis and his band had gained substantial recognition as one of the elite hard bop combos on the scene but one glance at the group’s stellar personnel will tell you that none of the members would’ve ever been content to stand still. Miles and pianist Bill Evans had been toying with a less formal, more modal style of jazz for a while but “Kind of Blue” was the first full immersion into that compositional concept. What they accomplished is so transcendent, so sublime, so spiritually uplifting as to be indescribable. But I’ll give it a shot and, if my humble review by any measure will lead you to give this album an unbiased listen, then I’ll feel that I did a good deed today.

From the moment Paul Chambers’ sly, subtle double bass riff punctuated by a trio of delicate horns reaches out and arrests your undivided attention you’re captivated by the enduring magic of “So What.” Davis’ trumpet solo and the sax rides that follow it from giants Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and John Coltrane run the entire gamut of human emotions and effectively transport you to another plane of existence. In the end Evans’ piano and Chambers’ bass conjure up exactly what’s needed to gently draw you back to reality. At this point you know you’re in the presence of true geniuses. In the bluesy “Freddy the Freeloader” the complex performances delivered atop the framework of its remarkable simplicity epitomize the very heart of jazz improvisation. One is also struck by the incredibly relaxed atmosphere they’ve brought into the sterile confines of the studio. This sort of aura can’t be manufactured, it either happens or it doesn’t, but when it manifests itself as it does here it’s a wonder to behold. Drink from it. Bathe in it. Miles, Cannonball and John each touch the fringes of nirvana with their individual solos and you’ll have to stifle the urge to applaud them as they finish and back out of the spotlight one at a time. The mood they sustain during “Blue in Green” is so sultry and melancholy as to qualify as an aural definition of those words. Bill’s piano is so graceful and expressive it makes your eyes get misty and the way the trumpet and both saxophones tiptoe across the top is mesmerizing. This piece of music would be right at home in a smoky bar or in a fancy concert hall. Its ability to unlock the dark, hidden rooms of your soul and fill them with the healing power of music is amazing.

The second half of the album was recorded seven weeks later but it sounds as if not a nanosecond of time elapsed in the interim because there’s no change in the creative climate to be detected at all. Davis’ classic “All Blues” approaches like a slow train in the distance as the sextet’s unique combination of gifted horn players implant the tune’s classic melody directly into your subconscious where it plants a flag. The never-intrusive Jimmy Cobb’s drums give this number a living, breathing swing groove that fuels some of the best individual solos you’ll ever hear. Miles, Cannonball, John and Bill soar freely like eagles in a crisp autumn sky and to be able to sit with one’s eyes closed, absorbing their art without interruption, is one of the joys of existence. The technique of applying a muting device to a trumpet’s bell has never been more properly displayed or wielded as skillfully as Davis does on “Flamenco Sketches.” Listening to the band perform this song is like watching great painters at work side by side, creating a stunning impressionistic mural with every color imaginable. While you’re caught up in the majesty of this astounding tune you get the feeling that there’s no place you’d rather be at the moment than in the same room (figuratively, of course) with these virtuosos. This caliber of jazz can alter your frame of mind and instantly transport you to a better world. The disc I own has an alternative take of this number and, while it’s not quite as wistful, it still stands on its own with no asterisk necessary. It goes to show how playing “in the moment” was more important to this ensemble than dutifully following some prescribed chart of chords and directions. It’s the same song in structure but it possesses a wholly different ambience and feel.

As I tap out this essay on the 53rd anniversary of the initial session I stand in awe of how a handful of flesh and bones musicians could make so huge an impact in the evolution of music. This record marks a definitive turning point in its glorious history. What makes it even more miraculous is that Miles Davis gave his cohorts the barest of instructions about what they were to play, desiring only that they summon every ounce of their creativity and let it flow into the music unencumbered by the regimen of a score. Usually a first-of-its-ilk album has some rough edges. Not this one. No wonder “Kind of Blue” is one of the top-selling jazz records of all time and considered a vital cornerstone disc in any collection. The number of musicians influenced by this album is incalculable. Its strains can be heard in all genres, from rock & roll to modern classical movements and will continue to reverberate throughout the music trends of generations to come. Is it the greatest jazz album? That’s up to the individual to decide but there’s no denying that it is far beyond reproach and deserves to be held in the highest of esteem by all mankind.
Is it hyperbole to call this one the Birth of Cool?

Yeah, I know. 'Cool' started earlier. And 'Kind of Blue' has a healthy dose of modal jazz too. But there aren't a lot of 'cool jazz' albums like this. It's a jewel in jazz history itself. And it's so easy to rave about 'Kind of Blue' when you're sitting there between the headphones (or speakers) just drifting away ...

If you're unfamiliar with the album, then consider it filled with cool, gentle and cool-bop or 'nod-along' moments, executed with a precision that is stunning. Soloing from lead players is top notch, the rhythm section remains unobtrusive while still holding everything together, and the compositions themselves are the kinds that you instantly feel must be classics. I wish I could hear this album again for the first time.

Part of what makes 'Kind of Blue' for me, is the balance of cool and warm tones. Adderley and Coltrane's saxes (along with Chambers' bass) supply a lot of warmth, which is contrasted by Evans and Miles. On tracks like 'Blue in Green' or 'Flamenco Sketches' especially, Miles' trumpet evokes the sound of night. Of dark streets wet with rain. And even if that's a cliche, it feels right.

As a side note, I find myself enjoying the alternate take of 'Flamenco Sketches' (found on CD issues of 'Kind of Blue') better. Something about the way some of the solos are stretched, how notes are held. It's wonderful.

Five stars here, an essential masterpiece - of any musical genre.

Jazz Masterpiece is really an understatement for this album which was recorded in March and April 1959. Anybody who likes Jazz has this album in their collection and the majority will say "this is the one" as I do. The personnel on this album are simply stunning with really a who's who of Jazz musicians. The great John Coltrane regarded by this reviewer as the greatest saxophone player ever, Julian Cannonball Adderley the alto player and who would go into jazz history with his future version to come of "Mercy Mercy". Bill Evans provides piano as does Wynton Kelly (you know you are in for some fine light playing, I have always said little sparkles come off the piano with his touch) and with the inclusion of Jimmy Cobb on drums and the ever regular great Bass player Paul Chambers you have the rythmn section. Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones were dropped because of their style which was great for Hard Bop but a bit too energetic for this album. Miles Davis during the recording only gave each player a sketch of the compositions and provided an intro and the rest was left to them with Miles giving free rein to them in their solos and the results are spectacular.There was more than one take for these but only the completed were used except for Flamenco Sketches which has two complete takes.

The music on this album is Modal and the Hard Bop sound in Milestones has been replaced. Five tracks only are the song listing on the original release, the first being "So What" which is one of the specific modal pieces on the album with Blue in Green and Flamenco Sketches being the others. Freddie Freeloader and All Blues are straight jazz blues numbers. I think that describing the components of these compositions is something that you do not need to hear as if you are even remotely interested in Jazz you will like this album or know it and with every more play you will still hear something new or just be spell bound by the quality of the music and the musicians who are playing it. Atmosphere is what this album makes.

There are so many different releases to this album some with a slight speed change as they claim side one ran a tad faster than it was supposed to have originally. There are deluxe editions,SACD.Blu Spec,Shm,etc, all for you to decide on.

If the star rating for reviews was a meter it would have just blown as 5 stars does not do this totally essential album in any music collection justice. All Jazz and what a standard this record obtained and even today it holds its own, head and shoulders above the rest.

Next time you are watching In The Line of Fire ( Clint Eastwood) listen for "All Blues" as Clint has it on the player the old Jazz Hound.

Note thanks to EZ Money for some assistance in this review long ago.

Members reviews

What was "Kind of Blue" at the time of its very first appearance in records shops? What is the same massified object (d'art, of course) today, with its reduced cd cover (but vinyl copies penetrate the market, giving the illusion of living in the past. No bonus file included there, but who cares - unless you aim to menace the stability of your compact disc tower, having the two versions)? ... so, the past. Or do you prefer to read the consumed golden years with the lens of today? "Kind of Blue" is a Columbia production, the Moloch company able to put a chain around Dark Magus ankle for 30 years. Before there was Prestige, the label of junkies (rules: to pay less, to pay soon after, to pay cash - and we know why...). But it was time for youth craziness to end and so Miles wrote his immediate (repeat: immediate) future in a couple of seances: we had the "present continuous tense" tetralogy (,,, Prestige seemed satisfied and Miles and his here and there collected combo were free for the new attic. From october 1955 to september 1958, the quintet, with Trane always on tenor, cut a number of tunes feeding famous studio lps, alive albums and collections (like "Circle in the round" and "The Columbia Years"). But mean "crime" is planned for March 2 and April 22, 1959. The scene: NYC, Columbia 30th Street Studio. Producer Irving Townsend, engineer Fred Plaut. That's all. In those two days, recording machines, feeling that Miles and friends were giving birth to a brand new Golden Boy, and deeply scared for that, decided not to obey causing a little "sharpness" in the masters, then corrected by time and man.

Since its birth "Kind of Blue" was something different. After those studio sessions Coltrane will be at Columbia 30th street only for two takes of "My Prince", leaving once for all the boys and keeping on searching the true core of life (but fragmented "Giant Steps" he did after "Kind of Blue" could not satisfy him). "Kind of Blue" was the winner. Miles Davis was the winner. The week end listener who plays "Kind of Blue", ingnore "Giant Steps" - and maybe "Milestones" too... . It's "Kind of Blue" turntables' favourite thing (and in cars?) and it's Miles' triumph. Sub - commander Evans (the 2nd Evans in Miles' life), whose contribution in the whole plot is still under investigation today, writes on back cover that tunes in this long player are like Japanese paints: no interrupted stroke or everything will be destroyed. As a result, no complex composition, but maybe something more difficult: the absence for musicians of a safe net, an endless challenge. Was he writing Miles' agenda for the next decades?
Jazz with pizzazz- a phrase with many 'z's but in reference to an artist that keeps doesn't let you sleep a wink.

Miles Davis was a pioneer for his time, undoubtedly. Although not as progressively experimental as future jazz fusion bands like Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Davis (among a other notable jazz groups/musicians) did a complete turnover on the jazz scene around the end of the 50's and the rest of the 60's with unheard-of experimentation. Incomprehensible by many of the jazz critics at the time, artists like Davis were scolded for changing the industry in such a drastic way, but over time garnered sensational praise with how revolutionary they were.

While not exactly jazz-rock fusion like electric period Davis, Kind of Blue is no doubt progressive jazz. While following typical 4/4 standard (mainly with the drumming by Jimmy Cobb), the famous dual saxophonists John Coltrane and "Cannonball" Adderley tender an eclectic vocal-like melody of illustrious toots in a back-and-forth sort of way. They are really what make this album what it is, as they can change in a snap without hesitation from soft to booming. Miles Davis himself is very similar, except as the royal trumpeter of this engagement hitting the highest notes. The brass section really does a good conjoined job of throwing up some unique patterns unseen on most jazz albums of the time. A problem much jazz faces is that sometimes the saxophone/trumpet/really any kind of brass overcomes all other instruments. This means it's up to the brass to be unique with such a mainline part, and much like vocals, if not done correctly can lead to some extremely irritating music. This is untrue of Kind of Blue- Davis, Coltrane, and Cannonball make for a really unique and creative experience that doesn't fade in quality even after all these years.

Enough about the brass, how's the rest of the band? Cobb is a standard drummer but I laud him for his vitality to keep up a clean beat even when faced with a doozy like 'All Blues', an eleven minute epic. Paul Chambers on bass and Bill Evans (and Wynton Kelly even though he only plays on track two) on the keys really go hand in hand as the backup. They rarely get moments to shine as a fronting instrument, they always manage to keep a cool and laidback atmosphere, really working well with the idea of cool-jazz better than most.

Kind of Blue is not fusion in the slightest but it is undeniably a classic. It deserves reverence and I suggest you hasten to check it out.
siLLy puPPy
The birth of the cool cats club

The year 1959 is often credited as being the most creative single year in jazz history when decades of trends and slowly evolving developments were suddenly turned upside down by several independently minded jazz musicians who suddenly decided that the norm was just not cool anymore. There was of course the riveting free jazz experimentation of Ornette Coleman with his groundbreaking “The Shape Of Jazz To Come,” the cool jazz time signature explorations of The Dave Brubeck Quartet on “Take Five” as well as John Coltrane offering his reinterpretations of just how the saxophone should be played on his phenomenal “Giant Steps,” but after all the creative dust settled and the 20/20 hind sight of history slowly coalesced into some sort of consensus, it was in the end MILES DAVIS who received the greatest accolades for his groundbreaking emphasis on the full-on emergence into the world of modal jazz, which of course is the style of jazz that incorporates musical modes as harmonic framework over fixed chord progressions. In short, MILES DAVIS had spent the 50s pretty much keeping up with the trends of jazz and perfecting them, but by 1959 and with the release of KIND OF BLUE, he finally became the leader of the pack and this release precisely marks the exact time period when he proved his genius of taking the reigns and leading the musical world into his own vision which in the long run would become one of the most revered and influential albums (not just jazz) of all of music history. Oh, and the best selling jazz album ever as well. Not too shabby!

What it all boils down to is that DAVIS was growing weary of jazz becoming an Olympic marathon where every musician had to compete to outdo the other. KIND OF BLUE was in effect a return to the soul of the musical movement that began way back with Scott Joplin who set up the proto-jazz ragtime movement that created an uplifting musical development that would stir the soul as well as bedazzle the technically minded in one fell swoop. This was a statement that it was time to revert back to the art of cooperation over competition where the sum of the parts of the musical contributions would coalesce into a much stronger statement than would the bombastic meanderings of the individual performers trying to one-up his fellow player. KIND OF BLUE shouted this out in full vehemence and although he was overshadowed by the other developments of jazz that occurred in the same year of release, MILES DAVIS had the last laugh by having KIND OF BLUE stand out over the decades as one of the most influential and best selling jazz albums ever to grace the entire genre which spans more decades than any other modern musical art form. While the modal jazz thing had been done before including by DAVIS himself as recently as his 1958 “Milestones,” it was only on KIND OF BLUE that DAVIS devoted an entire album exclusively to the development of it.

Musically this is a supergroup of talented musicians before there were supergroups and before most of these guys were famous in their own right. KIND OF BLUE is in effect a spawning ground for many greats to emulate. You couldn’t ask for a better lineup with DAVIS leading on his signature trumpet. Not only does this album showcase the holy trinity brass fraternization of DAVIS in unison with Cannonball Adderley on alto sax and the great John Coltrane delivering his tenor sax but also delivers the equally riveting double bass rhythmic stabilizing effects of Paul Chambers in cahoots with the percussive adroitness of Jimmy Cobb all dressed up with the piano accompaniment of Bill Evans (with Wynton Kelly briefly taking over on “Freddie Freeloader”). In effect, what we ultimately experience of these musicians is the achemizing effect of their talents into a much greater whole which is nothing short of a musical miracle of sorts. From the very first notes on piano by Bill Evans on “So What” to the final wailing sax notes of “Flamenco Sketches” listener is presented a band in perfect unison together. DAVIS purportedly entered the studio in early 1959 and only gave the musicians the rudimentary basics of what was to come and instructed them to “feel” their way through the darkness using only their musical intuition to find their way. Many of these tracks have no set melody and are only structured by certain chord progressions using improvisation over the different modes. This semi-structure with creative spontaneity where everything went right is one of the many reasons why KIND OF BLUE ranks high in not only jazz musician’s greatest albums of all time but with a majority of music lover’s outside the realms of jazz as well. KIND OF BLUE is one of those touched-by-the-gods type of albums where despite all the obstacles and distractions that could have arisen were put aside for a brief moment of time where creative expression reigned free without impediments thus becoming a true inspiration for musicians in myriad genres.

OK, so what’s the fuss about this album? REALLY? I mean there is a major difference between understanding that a certain landmark album is a cornerstone in historical development and worthy of historical appreciation and actually enjoying it as an interesting listening experience. Well, i have to admit that being someone born after the period and not even getting to hearing this until decades later, that i was one who respected it, much preferring the venomous bite of the hard bop and Dixieland jazz that came before over the slow tempo and chilled cool jazz releases that were initiated by this release. But after many listens, all the barriers have broken down and KIND OF BLUE is sort of like a tick that subtly inserts its fangs into your neck and slowly injects its essence into your blood in a profound way and like lyme disease incubates in your DNA until one day when you throw this on for a spin just to feel a patriotic musical duty, suddenly has the ability to pry open all prejudices and simply infuse the listening capabilities with sweet sensual melodies and genuine enjoyment of its original intentional uplifting mojo. While this has mostly been a 4 star album for me for most of my acquaintance, in the end i have finally succumbed to the majesty of it all and while KIND OF BLUE will not even make my top list of MILES DAVIS favorites list, there is no doubt that this is indeed the touted masterpiece that it has been deemed for it truly does capture a unique spirit that is extremely rare where all the elements come together with a healthy dose of divine intervention to create a veritable musical transcendental phenomenon.

Basically if this isn’t gelling with your musical sensibilities, take it from a metal and prog rock lover who had to back peddle to appreciate the more sensual side of roots music to understand where such releases as KIND OF BLUE were coming from, but ultimately once properly injected with all its magic in enough doses, i can honestly say that this music clicked with me in a most profound way. Multiple listens are needed to fully understand the true intent and accomplishments of this album. Jazz is a most complex musical art form in any respect and although the cool modal jazz may sound simplistic in comparison to some of the hard bop and avant-garde jazz releases of the era, there is much to glean from the experience that does not make itself apparent upon first or even second listen. While KIND OF BLUE may never be deemed the most complex musical offering of the ages, it does reach a certain balance in taming complexity for its own sake as well as creating melodies on demand as the musicians performing felt appropriate for this fleeting moment in time. For whatever reason, the final product resulted in establishing itself as a classic of the 20th century that not only punctuated a clear delineation of jazz development in the timeline but more simply created a cavorting gambol of musical expression that has literally reverberated throughout the decades.
Ah, yes. This is THE one. The Dark Side of the Moon, Citizen Kane, The New World Symphony of jazz - one of those few etalons that sometimes appear in arts and don't get their wings melted when they reach the sun of perfection.

And one can't be really surprised, just look at the line-up - always wonderful Miles Davis whose trumpet can be soothing and sweet as well as sharp as a knife and powerful as the horns of Jericho. My favorite Miles Davis' moment is the beginning of Blues in Green and his first blows there. Then there is Mr. Coltrane with his volcanic improvisations full of eruptions of emotions and lava of tones, that goes perfectly with Cannonball's wonderful sense for melody. The contrast between them can be perfectly heard in the first piece - So What. There, as well as on the rest of this record, they are supported by very sensitive style of Bill Evans' piano that is going to be shown off later on in the album. Every touch he makes, every notes he plays - it's all so great. And let's not forget the great bassist and drummer who keep all of this going, and Wynton Kelly who plays the piano on the bluesiest of the tracks.

I know, I know, I haven't really told you a lot about this album. You don't even know how it sounds, you probably don't even know what genre of jazz it is, but maybe that was my goal from the very beginning - now you have to give it a listen. Because as a great man once said: "Writing about music is the same as dancing about architecture." and I'm sure it applies to reading as well. That's why I strongly recommend you to stop now and put this record into your CD/LP player.
This album is not just essential for a Jazz musician or fan to own, it is pretty much essential for everyone to own provided they don't hate the genre. I mean, first of all, the music is all performed by an all-star cast, but also, Kind of Blue was recorded without the musicians knowing the tunes too well, and this is what makes it so great, you can hear how brilliant all the musicians are as improvisers. Of course, its modality contributes to a very melodic type of improvisation, it gives the musicians much more freedom with their solos and, in the piano's case, comping. It kicks off with some subtle chords from the piano (Bill Evans) trading off with phrases in the bass (Paul Chambers) and soon evolves into 'So What,' a tune so famous that even if you don't know who Miles Davis is, you may well have heard this. Brilliant solos, pretty high energy considering how relaxed the head had been. The album picks up the pace with 'Freddie Freeloader,' this time with Wynton Kelly on piano. It's a blues. The album then puts the pace back down, leading to the beautiful ballad 'Blue in Green.' This is the most relaxed the album gets, and may be the most relaxed any album ever gets. Also great is 'All Blues,' yet another that people who don't know Jazz probably know. It is a blues, but I never would have guessed it. The repeated chord on the piano almost disguises it. And finally, 'Flamenco Sketches,' an experiment in modality. Well there you have it. The greatest album ever? Maybe. The most laid back? Definitely.
Miles Davis's 1959 masterpiece Kind of Blue has a reputation not only as one of the trumpeter's finest achievements in his long and illustrious career, but also as one of jazz's most essential masterworks. A timeless masterpiece indeed, Kind of Blue is the very definition of a classic jazz record in my book. Its soothing ambiance, intricate rhythmical and improvisational structures, and outstanding cast of musicians make it the perfect album for nearly every day and mood. Not to mention, of course, that Kind of Blue is the greatest selling jazz album of all time, it inspired thousands of young musicians at the time of its release, and it still continues to inspire young musicians over fifty years after its release. This is an album you must hear for historical significance alone, but the music is so terrific that I think it's essential even without all of its influence and accolades. If you like music and haven't heard Kind of Blue, you're missing out more than words can describe. This is the kind of album that everyone deserves to hear at least once. But, be warned - if you hear this album once, it will be exceptionally difficult to get it off your rotation!

The music here is often described as "cool jazz", which means that the music is heavily focused around subtle riffs, improvisations, and a gentle atmosphere. This was a rather stark departure from a lot of Miles's earlier hard bop efforts, but the quality of the music on Kind of Blue is irrefutable. This is a prime example of cool jazz at its very best; every musician is at the very top of their game, every composition is an irresistible "toe-tapper", and every solo is executed with finesse and emotion. I think it's a safe bet to claim that if you don't like Kind of Blue, then you just don't like jazz music. Mid-twentieth century jazz simply doesn't get any better than this.

Of course, it's difficult to discuss this album without talking about the strength of the musicians involved. Kind of Blue was crafted by a cast of star-studded musicians, including Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Julian Adderley (alto saxophone), Paul Chambers (double bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Bill Evans (piano), and Wynton Kelly (piano on "Freddie Freeloader"). The rhythm section lays down plenty of memorable riffs throughout the course of the album, and the solos from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Julian Adderley, and Bill Evans rank among the most memorable performances in each of their careers. The chemistry between each of these musicians is strikingly noticeable, even more than on many other Davis albums. The warm and organic production helps highlight all of the different things going on in the music, making it one of the best sounding productions from the fifties (or ever).

Kind of Blue is the sort of album that no review can do any justice. It's simply one of those records that everybody needs to hear, and it also currently stands as one of the most prized pieces of music in my collection. This is a prime example of a 5 star album if I've ever seen one. There's a reason why Kind of Blue is always found towards the top of 'greatest album of all time' lists - it truly is one of the most beautiful, moving, and impressive pieces of music you'll ever experience. Essential.
Kind of Blue is one of those rare albums which demand to be listened to even if you aren't a fan of the genre it arose from, and as a result is many listeners' first experience of cool jazz. The plaintive trumpet work of Miles is at the heart of the five compositions on offer, with moods ranging from the breezy, busy "So What" to the infinitely calm "Blue In Green", one of the most laid-back tracks in any genre. The rhythm section of Jimmy Cobb on drums and Paul Chambers on double bass is backed up by the piano work of Bill Evans (Wynton Kelly on "Freddie Freeloader") in order to create the perfect sonic backdrop for the main attraction - the brass instruments. The triumvirate of Davis on trumpet, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, and John Coltrane on tenor sax represents an incredible drawing together of top-drawer jazz talent, and each of the three is captured at the top of their game.

If you don't like this album, then you just don't like mid-20th Century jazz full stop; cool jazz doesn't get better than this.
Sean Trane
I never thought I’d write a review about one of the top 5 jazz record of all time, one on which everything’s been writer, re-written, an album of which everything and it’s exact opposite’s been said decades ago. AKOB is Miles’ first quintet (let’s call it , the 50’s quintet) with (brace yourself) Canonball Adderley, Coltrane on saxes, Bill Evans on piano (not to be confused with the Canadian Gil Evans of Davis’ future trilogy) and the Cobb-Chambers diesel engine in rhythm section, ; and this very album is that line-up’s apex.

Part of this album’s phenomenal success and its legendary status is the extraordinary easiness of the “riff” of So What, which is only equalled by the “Take Five” riff. Not only does it have one killer riff, but it holds a second unforgettable riff in the lengthy All Blues, which is of course the album’s centrepiece. Another stupendous moment is Flamenco Sketches where Coltrane and Davis extract some typical Spanish melodies and splatter them onto their quiet jazz, thus prefacing Miles’s Sketches Of Spain to come in the next years.

If you mustown just two jazz records, make sure that besides Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, you get Miles’AKOB.

Pure Jazz of the Extraordinary Kind.

This album screams pure cool from end to end. The tracks motorvate along at an easy pace and remind me of driving slow down a deserted highway. Everything works musically and the musicianship is virtuoso on every level. The drums are incredible, lots of hi hat shuffling and sporadic timpani beats amidst a wash of brass, especially Davis' scintillating trumpet and Coltrane's incredible saxophone. Four of the tracks have a running time of about 10 minutes give or take a minute and are quintessential Davis classics in their own right. The album is so imprinted on jazz history that it is a milestone of this legendary artist. I am not a huge fan of jazz, having dipped into Mahavishnu Orchestra and some Jazz fusion from Soft Machine, however this album is so perfectly produced that it is a definitive product of proto prog before the genre was even considered. As such it must not be ignored by any true prog addict.

So the 5 tracks are worth considering on their own merits.

Opening track is "So What", the first Miles Davis I ever heard and I knew I would be indulging in more from this prolific artist. It is sleepy music but it captivates you and is spellbinding artistry. The freeform jazz is tantalising, Cobb's drums lock into a jazz tempo. There is a staccato stabbing brass that interrupts the bass lines repeatedly and it sticks in your head as the main motif of the piece. The real star is of course that trumpet. A scorching sax solo grabs hold and impacts the atmosphere, it is quite simply stunning music.

Second track is "Freddie Freeloader" which begins with more brass overlayed by Evans' tinkling jazz piano and a climbing bass. This feels like walking down a rain soaked street at night with the neon lights dancing off the soaked roads. It even sounds like a busy night club with people bustling back n forth; it has a street sound to it of late night entertainment. A jazz club feel as you might expect to hear in any late night jazz cafe. The tenor sax sings and wails out its loneliness and pleads for you to listen and it compels you to do so. The alto sax answers and they speak in sensual tones to each other like jilted lovers trying to reconcile their differences. It is up tempo and entrancing. Then it returns to the opening phrase reminding us that we have been on a journey and it is coming to an end. One of my favourites on this album without doubt.

Third track is "Blue in Green", introduced with soft melancholy piano and bass. A very slow pace that is driven by haunting piano and an alto sax becomes the mouthpiece for the sadness that is felt. This is the saddest piece on the album and delightfully so. The type of song you listen to when the bar is about to close down and the girl you had focused your attention all night has left with someone else. You saunter over to the piano man and Bogart-like lean on the piano and listen with thoughtful reflection of what might have been. The interpretation of the music is minimalist and ethereal. This is patiently executed and there is no hurry as the sax just floats along Cobb's wire brushed drum atonal rhythm.

Fourth track is "All Blues" which locks into a quick tempo and relies heavily on the brass virtuoso playing of Coltrane, Adderley and Davis. The sax absolutely shines on this and the blues chords of piano and bass are engaging. The emotion is more joyous on this track as the cymbal riding talents of Cobb and Evans' bluesy piano arpeggios blend perfectly. The harmonious melodies of sax and trumpet drive the instrumental piece along as if travelling on a long road to an unknown destination. Towards the end the brass takes a detour and then the track fades away.

The last is a hint of what may come in "Sketches of Spain", "Flamenco Sketches" begins with a minimalist piano and gorgeous strong brass strains. The bass is very innovative with the use of heartfelt runs and some improv. I love the alto sax on this, which is dreamy and melancholy. It encompasses a Spanish flavour. It enters the soul and transfixes the listener. It is the type of music that may be sufficient for a romantic candlelit dinner for two. I can imagine the flames dancing and flickering sparks and creating a glow on the faces of the lovers who gaze into each other's eyes. It really is dinner music but too good for mere background music alone. The brushed drums are so important to this music and kind of sound like clientele whispering in the jazz bar. It feels like the end of a long night and the bar is about to close towards the end. The mood really settles into a sad sombre atmosphere and then ends abruptly.

And thus ends my first Miles Davis experience and it was a pleasant introduction with nothing else to compare at this stage from this genius of jazz. Unexpected certainly, but as good as the hype that surrounds this essential jazz masterful treasure.

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