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Miles Davis

Kind of Blue

Aug 1959

The definition of cool yet mastered at the wrong speed

Jazz

This 1959 Columbia Records masterpiece practically defined musical cool for five decades and is the best selling jazz LP of all time for good reason.

Aided and abetted by John Coltrane and Julian Cannonball Adderley on tenor and alto saxophones respectively – Miles completed the circle of musical excellence and modal feel of Kind Of Blue with a duo of piano heavyweights: Bill Evans and Wynton Wyn Kelly. Paul Chambers and James Cobb made up the rhythm section.

In his liner notes Bill Evans waxes lyrical about the need for the collective talent to “bend for the common result” – and you can so hear this in the deceptive and beautiful simplicity of the piano opening to So What followed by the slink of Freddie Freeloader where Kelly takes over the keyboard. The beautiful slow majesty of Blue In Green has Miles draw-out every lonesome note before Evans and Coltrane deliver the sweetest of solos.

The soft-shoe-shuffle of All Blues is a perfect example of collaborative jazz –where each instrument shines but doesn’t try to outdo or grandstand on the others. You also get to appreciate the sweet transfers – lovingly remastered from the original three-track tapes using a Presto all-tube recorder. That explains the incredibly natural sound of an album that is tonally rich and has remarkable image scale.

It has always been the accessibility of Kind Of Blue that makes the album tick. Endless soloing had and still does afflict much of improvisational jazz – but on these sessions Miles Davis sought out melody above virtuosity. The nine-minutes of Flamenco Sketches make it easy to hear why this is such a popular album.