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Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue CD (album) cover

KIND OF BLUE

Miles Davis

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.37 | 627 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Excuse me if I applaud Kind of Blue a tad too much- how can I help but do? It is a perfect album for a cocktail, a perfect album for a long drive, a perfect album for a rainy afternoon, a perfect album for romance, a perfect album for the melancholy of aloneness, and a perfect album for nearly any conceivable moment in between any of these. To me, all five of these pieces are among the pinnacle of jazz music, the epitome and distillation of the genre, and it is a record that anyone of any musical persuasions should hear at least once in his lifetime, but I hope he will hear it more. The sad thing is, after writing this review, I may never see this album the same way again, but somehow in my heart, I feel it will not be so- I suspect it shall remain fresh every time, as it has since I first had the pleasure of hearing it. Either way, as long as I have ears to hear, I will not be deterred from indulging in Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

"So What" An introduction like this only serves to tease the listener. It is a slightly freeform bit of bass and piano that eventually gels into the main theme of the piece, and what a theme it is! Playing two rounds in the regular key, one in a half step up, and one back down again, the listener can almost hear the title of the song in the brass. Then the first solo- Davis' trumpet eases the listener into one of the greatest joys of music. It almost seems like Davis isn't finished playing when Julian Adderley enters will a full-bodied solo of his own. In the same manner, John Coltrane jumps in with a second saxophone solo, one that is somewhat more active than the one that came before. Bill Evans takes a shorter turn, as the brass vamps over him (quite a quiet bit of playing on his part, but no less masterful), and he subtly leads the band back into the main theme, thus book-ending this fabulous work. Underneath it all, the walking bass of Paul Chambers offers a distracting, flowing framework.

"Freddie Freeloader" The first proper blues piece starts here immediately, with a whiny yet lazy harmony- perfect for a freeloader, and with plenty of reprimanding rim shots to boot. While the pianist went last previously, guest Wynton Kelly gets first go here, and his style is far more upbeat than that of Evans's. "Stop Freeloader," the trumpet cries, interrupting the pianist in an authoritative manner, but then that authoritative tone soon gives way to sloppy lounge-like manner, like a policeman who just came home from work and kicked off his shoes and had a drink or two or three and then gets in argument with his wife. But that argument is soon broken up by the neighbor who jumps in, in the form of Coltrane's alto saxophone. After the ranting, the neighbor's wife, (we can call her Adderley), gets involved, squealing her displeasure at her husband not handling the neighbors efficiently enough, keeping her up, not taking out the trash, not making enough money, not taking her out at night, never giving her an orgasm, and so on. After that, everyone is embarrassed, and it is quiet again, with only light piano filling in the awkward silence, and soon only Mr. Freeloader remains, his hands in his pockets, insisting he wasn't doing anything wrong in the first place.

"Blue in Green" It amazes me that one of the most placid pieces in all of jazz music has been the subject of such controversy, in that both Davis and Evans maintained writing the piece alone. I am convinced it was the two of them together, more or less, but at this juncture in musical history, I do not think it matters. It is a masterpiece of music; it is here, and the two possible creators are not. Perhaps the posthumous lesson this now half-a-century-old opus teaches us is that amazing things on this earth, no matter how wonderful, go away. It begins with a delicate piano and bass. That first piercing note weeps through, and it stabs at the soul. Jimmy Cobb's brushes rain down like a lazy afternoon shower on the cloudiest of days. My delight, however, and everything this work culminates in, is that final combination of piano chords, first alluded to in the middle of the piece, coming once forcefully, then twice more so.

"All Blues" The most upbeat piece has a rattling of keys, the brushing of drums, that funky bass vamp, and the harmony of the brass, so exquisitely and cunningly performed, with notes sneaking up in an occasionally mournful fashion. It builds such that the first series of trumpet notes are an inevitable catharsis- school is finally out. The subsequent saxophone is more friendly and joyous, almost youthful, really- skipping, rolling down hills, and laughing. The following saxophone is more of the parent though, ordering the playful child about, scolding, and later hollering that it is time to wash up for supper. Don't talk back now. What's that? Don't talk back I said. Let the piano be the stairs to march up when in trouble. Then it's time to lie in bed and think about the bad behavior, the disobedience, but more importantly how it will all happen again tomorrow. But shh...if quiet, there are board games to play and comic books to read by the nightlight...

"Flamenco Sketches" The bass, piano, and opening trumpet of this final piece, using roots and fifths initially, make me sad because I know the smooth ride is nearly at its end, and yet there's so much left to savor. The tumbling bass is a highlight for me, although it is difficult to imagine a highlight when everything is so inspired. Screeching but not astringent trumpet is on an exotic journey and moves through arid and rocky Arabian and Iberian places. The alto saxophone solo is the most romantic portion- it is downright sexual, from the first meeting, the casual flirting, a quixotic date and the coy invitation to extend that date, the cocktails, the candles, the eventual passionate sex, and finally- listen to Coltrane's last notes- the exhalation that follows the orgasm. Playful and with bouncier notes juxtaposed with a few sustained ones, the tenor saxophone is like the rapturous dream of the lovers as they sleep together. The piano notes trickle in such a minimal way- an ingenious respite from the downy ravages of the brass, like waking to the same fresh face seen the night before, and it ushers in the mournful trumpet- the sad goodbye, because ultimately, the relationship is too good- or more likely, too bad- to be true. One must move on. This is the most "progressive" of the works presented despite lacking a unifying melody. But so what?

Epignosis | 5/5 |

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