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Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue CD (album) cover


Miles Davis


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.34 | 1049 ratings

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4 stars Fantastic? kind of...

A Beginner's Guide to Proto-Prog pt. 2: Selling 4 million copies in the US alone according to RIAA and ranking #12 on the 500 greatest albums of all time list by Rolling Stone magazine, Kind Of Blue is the best-selling and best-ranking jazz album of all time and - more importantly - perhaps is the most influential music of all time with respect to all musical genres, including the development of prog rock that adopted the improvisational abilities of modal music introduced on the title track of the previous year's Milestones but presented here (and on later solo works by John Coltrane, who contributed alto sax on this and previous Davis albums) to the optimum.

1958 was yet another year with the Billboard 200 Albums topped by soundtracks (Peter Gunn, Gigi, South Pacific) although championed by the folk music of The Kingston Trio and with the Billboard 100 Songs topped by country/pop (Johnny Horton), folk/pop (Bobby Darin), R&B (Lloyd Price) and rock & roll (Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka). In the UK South Pacific topped the album charts all year round (and has spent more weeks at number one than any other album in the UK) while Elvis, Cliff Richard, Buddy Holly, Shirley Bassey, Russ Conway, Bobby Darin and Emilie Ford all had major no. 1 singles.

Notwithstanding this, the year influenced the course of progressive rock as 14 year old Keith Emerson most likely heard what he would later adopt, Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme" and The Dave Brubeck Quartet's Blue Rondo A La Turk off their innovative odd time signature Time Out jazz album that surprisingly reached number two on Billboard's Pop Albums chart the same year and even resulted in the single Take Five by saxophonist Paul Desmond reaching number five in the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

The latter album and Kind Of Blue were engineered by (later chief engineer) Fred Plaut (credited for essential cast recordings of that period such as South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story) and produced by Teo Macero (who worked with Mingus, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Stan Getz etc) at Columbia 30th Street recording studios in New York City. However, some reissues of the original Columbia Records album such as the 1997 reissue by Sony Music Entertainment Inc. for their catalog division Legacy Recordings only states Irving Townsend as producer (he also produced Billie Holiday, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Dave Brubeck). Macero produced other Miles Davis' output most notably Bitches Brew.

Recorded March/April and released August 1959, Kind Of Blue presents the same personnel as Milestones except Bill Evans and Jimmy Cobb replacing Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones on keyboard and drums, respectively. Wynton Kelly played keyboard a one track, Freddie Freeloader. According to the 1997 reissue Miles Davis wrote the entire album, but it has been suggested that Bill Evans co-wrote Blue In Green and Flamenco Sketches. After this recording John Coltrane would leave Davis to achieve great things on his own; PA members emphasize his early '60's albums Olé Coltrane, Crescent and A Love Supreme as influential to the development of prog.

If Milestones represents night then Kind Of Blue is the daytime in an entirely different gear; a laidback, sunny Sunday in early summer with plenty of opportunity to lie in the shades. Like the harmless, soothing effect of a light bodied desert following a full course meal. Yet with the nice prolonged taste that few albums can offer. Lacking density, undesirable ingredients represented mostly by saxophone filler stand out immediately between islands of excellence represented mostly be Davis' themes. Possibly the drawback of modality; improvisation based on beautiful sketches of scales and melody lines inherently provides a lot of filler material. To this day remaining an undesirable characteristic of jazz rock/fusion.

earlyprog | 4/5 |


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