Kind Of Blue

Miles Davis

Columbia/Legacy, 1959

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/08/2007

It’s been called -- repeatedly -- the greatest jazz album ever made.  Miles Davis’ 1959, five-track, 46-minute album Kind Of Blue has over the decades grown so legendary as to become almost unreviewable.  But if we must…

Much has been said by Davis’ fellow musicians and jazz aficionados over the years about the technical aspects of these five compositions and performances.  If you’re looking for that sort of analysis here, you’re in the wrong place.  I can’t come close to explaining the musical significance of measures and scales or modal jazz or tonal organization.  Whatever science or magic was worked on these charts is beyond my ken.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

What I can tell you is that when Bill Evans’ piano and Davis’ trumpet play their little counter-pointing duet over Paul Chambers’ gentle, insistent bass line and Jimmy Cobb’s swishing hi-hat towards the end of “So What,” it crystallizes into a kind of transcendent beauty and truth.  It literally sounds, as Cobb famously said, like music that must have been made in heaven.

What I can tell you is when Evans takes over the early minutes of “Freddie Freeloader” with his fluid lines and phrases before handing the melody off to Davis, it is sweetness personified, a musical hot fudge sundae with John Coltrane’s zingy, zesty tenor sax solo the finger-snapping cherry on top.

What I can tell you is that the middle section of the sublime “Blue In Green,” where Miles’ trumpet solo melts into Evans’ piano solo melts into Cannonball Adderly’s tip-toeing alto sax, makes my heart sing and my eyes well.

What I can tell you is that when Coltrane’s tenor and Adderly’s alto and Davis’s trumpet wind their way through the sinuous opening bars of “All Blues,” weaving lines over and under one another in a kind of jazz ballroom dance, it is the sound of Michaelangelo sculpting, of Da Vinci painting.  What I can tell you is that when Davis himself busts in with a solo of his own over Cobb’s jittery snare and steady hi-hat, it is not just the epitome but the very definition of cool. 

What I can tell you is that, in addition to foreshadowing the multicultural bent of Davis’ future career arc, “Flamenco Sketches” is among his definitive moments as both a player and arranger, giving all three of these legendary horn players the platform to blow some of the most instinctively sensitive and sensual solos of their careers.

And finally, what I can tell you is that I have never heard an album in any genre more deserving of being called the greatest of its genre.  There are very few albums that any person wishing to describe themselves as a fan of American popular music simply must own.  This is one of them.

Rating: A

User Rating: A

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© 2007 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia/Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.