Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (Master Sound - Super Bit Mapping)
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"It's one thing to just play a tune, or play a program of music, but it's another thing to practically create a new language of music, which is what Kind of Blue did"
- Chick Corea
Miles Davis, after purveying the be-bop style of jazz for many years, became greatly influenced by the ideas of pianist George Russell who in 1953 published his Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, which offered an alternative to the practice of improvisation based on chords. Abandoning the traditional major and minor key relationships of Western music, Russell developed a new formulation using scales or a series of scales for improvisations; this approach came to be known as Modal in jazz.
Davis implemented his first modal composition with the title track of his 1958 album Milestones, and, satisfied with the results, Davis now wanted to create an entire album based on modality.
Pianist Bill Evans, also an enthusiast of Russell, but recently departed from the Davis band to pursue his own career, was successfully drafted in to the new recording project - the sessions that would become Kind of Blue.
The entire album was composed as a series modal sketches, in which each performer was given a set of scales that defined the parameters of their improvisation. This was in contrast to more typical means of composing, such as providing musicians with a complete score or, as was more common for improvisational jazz, providing the musicians with a chord progression or series of harmonies.
Davis saw Russell's methods of composition as a means of getting away from the dense chord-laden compositions of his time, which Davis had labeled "thick". Modal composition, with its reliance on scales and modes, represented "a return to melody."
The album was recorded in two sessions, on March 2 for the tracks "So What," "Freddie Freeloader," and "Blue in Green," composing side one of the original LP, and April 22 for the tracks "All Blues," "Flamenco Sketches," making up side two.
As was Davis' penchant, he called for almost no rehearsal and the musicians had little idea what they were to record; as described in the original liner notes by Evans, the band had only sketches of scales and melody lines to go on.
Once the great musicians were assembled, Davis gave brief instructions for each piece, then set to taping. While the results are impressive with so little preparation, the persistent legend of the entire album being recorded in one pass is untrue. Only "All Blues" was completed in a single take, with the other tracks being finalized after 3-6 takes each, including a piano solo insert for "Freddie Freeloader".
Kind of Blue is not only regarded as one of
Evans formed his influential jazz trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian; "Cannonball" Adderley would front his popular bands with his brother Nat; Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb would continue as a touring unit, recording under Kelly's name as well as in support of Coltrane and Wes Montgomery, among others; Coltrane would go on to become one of the most revered and innovative jazz musicians in history. Even more than
In his book, Kind of Blue: The Making of a Miles Davis Masterpiece, author Ashley Kahn wrote that "still acknowledged as the height of hip four decades after it was recorded, Kind of Blue is the premier album of its era, jazz or otherwise. Its vapory piano introduction is universally recognized" (Kahn 2001:16).
Producer Quincy Jones, one of
Pianist Chick Corea, one of Miles' acolytes, was also struck by its majesty. He said: "It's one thing to just play a tune, or play a program of music, but it's another thing to practically create a new language of music, which is what Kind of Blue did" (Kahn 2001:19).
One significant aspect of Kind of Blue is that the entire record, not just one track, was revolutionary. Gary Burton noted this occurrence. "It wasn’t just one tune that was a breakthrough, it was the whole record. When new jazz styles come along, the first few attempts to do it are usually kind of shaky. Early Charlie Parker records were like this. But with Kind of Blue [the sextet] all sound like they’re fully into it" (Kahn 2001:179).
"As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time," says Bill Evans in the liner notes to Kind of Blue. "Miles Davis presents here frameworks which are exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with a sure reference to the primary conception." Amen. During the past 40 years, the performances Davis' stimulated from Evans, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly have become some of the most storied in jazz, and all of them - classics such as "Freddie the Freeloader," "All Blues," "Blue in Green," and, of course, "So What" (featured) - are featured on this Columbia/Legacy reissue.Many, many, many things in life are over-hyped. Especially things that were huge and revolutionary at their times, things you have been told to check out and haven't gotten around to. Movies in particular are like this for me. I'll put on a movie like the Graduate or the Shining, things I've been told are great, and please don't tell anybody but I can't believe how bored I can be. I like them only because I know I'm supposed to like them to show how truly sophisticated I am.Kind of Blue is the exception to this rule. It is hyped, it is the one jazz album you are told to own if you only own one jazz album, and it is absolutely worthy of the adulation. I promise.When I first started collecting jazz albums, I was told by an old Chicago cat that Kind of Blue was "the Bible" and Coltrane's rendition of "My Favorite Things" was the national anthem. He was right. No matter how my collection has grown, no matter through how many different alleyways and conduits my taste has wandered, no matter what's stewing in my synapses, I always return to So What, Freddie Freeloader, Blue in Green, and All Blues (that's right, I skip Flamenco Sketches, but So What?). Buy it and listen to it until it seeps into your dreams, becomes the soundtrack to your strut, and fills your soul with the sacred expanding nothingness.”
2. Freddie Freeloader (9:47)
3. Blue In Green (5:37)
4. All Blues (11:37)
5. Flamenco Sketches (9:22)
- Miles Davis – trumpet, leader
- Julian "Cannonball" Adderley – alto saxophone, except on "Blue in Green"
- John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
- Wynton Kelly – piano, only on "Freddie Freeloader"
- Bill Evans – piano, liner notes
- Paul Chambers – bass
- Jimmy Cobb – drums
- Teo Macero – producer
- Irving Townsend – original recording producer
- Fred Plaut – recording engineer
- Michael Cuscuna – reissue producer
- Mark Wilder – remix engineer
- Gil Evans - arranger
Here be the Miles' majestic milestone music:
Big Thanks to chronograph !