Monday, August 13, 2012

53 Years, and "Kind of Blue" Lives On

It's that time of year again folks.

In 1959, Miles Davis and his quintet (John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb) released Miles' magnum opus, the seminal Kind of Blue.

It featured a more mature modal jazz, which Miles started working on in his previous albums, Milestones, 1958 Miles and Porgy & Bess.

Each player played with his own view of how the movement of the song should go. Cool as ice Miles, frantic and exploring Coltrane, and downtown grit Cannonball along witht he great rhythm section. Wynton Kelly performs on "Freddy Freeloader" while Bill Evans takes the rest of the songs home. Bill plays with a subtle nuance that carries each song, as opposed to Kelly's all out blues.

It's always considered a reminder on how much this album influenced the entire musical spectrum. Even Richard Wright (of Pink Floyd) mentioned in the Making of the Dark Side of the Moon that he learned some chords from this album and used it on that record:

Every now and then, mostly then, classic albums are released that stand the test of time, and this album is no exception.

Bill Evans wrote on the liner notes of the album:

"There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation.

This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflections, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician."

And this was among some of the reasons why this album endures.

If you have a free hour, I have taken the liberty to post the full album for you (you're welcome!), so sit back, have a cigar and a brandy (or ... coffee? if you're not into booze) and enjoy the opening of "So What" till the fade of "Flamenco Sketeches":

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