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Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue CD (album) cover

KIND OF BLUE

Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars I never thought I'd write a review about one of the top 5 jazz record of all time, one on which everything's been writer, re-written, an album of which everything and it's exact opposite's been said decades ago. Of course this album is completely out of context of the site it's featured, but it remains a monument. AKOB is Miles' first quintet (let's call it , the 50's quintet) with (brace yourself) Canonball Adderley, Coltrane on saxes, Bill Evans on piano (not to be confused with the Canadian Gil Evans of Davis' future trilogy) and the Cobb-Chambers diesel engine in rhythm section, ; and this very album is that line-up's apex.

Part of this album's phenomenal success and its legendary status is the extraordinary easiness of the "riff" of So What, which is only equalled by the "Take Five" riff. Not only does it have one killer riff, but it holds a second unforgettable riff in the lengthy All Blues, which is of course the album's centrepiece. Another stupendous moment is Flamenco Sketches where Coltrane and Davis extract some typical Spanish melodies and splatter them onto their quiet jazz, thus prefacing Miles's Sketches Of Spain to come in the next years.

I won't be giving the fifth star it would deserve, because the album is out of its context here, but I've said enough that it would deserve it, should we be on RYM or AMG. If you mustown just two jazz records, make sure that besides Coltrane's A Love Supreme, you get Miles'AKOB.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#179605)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, so Miles has finally been added to the archives. Well, Kind of Blue is certainly not progressive rock but this website has already gone far beyond that, so it's fitting that he be included. While he was mainly put on the archives for his influence on the jazz/rock fusion genre, this is for me and many others his greatest work. Every track is executed perfectly and achieves a mood simply unmatched anywhere else in music. There isn't a bad moment on this entire album and it is essential to all music fans, period. If there is one, this is the definitive jazz album, and one of music's greatest achievements, probably also my favorite album of all time. It deserves the 5 star rating not only for it's unmatched quality, but for it's progressiveness and influence on generations of musicians to come.

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Send comments to King Crimson776 (BETA) | Report this review (#179705)
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album is a thing of beauty. While 'Round About Midnight and Miles Ahead are certainly gems from his early years, I consider Kind of Blue to be Miles Davis' first masterpiece. Standard jazz as it may be, it is certainly the ultimate in its class. Many will also state that this is the definitive jazz album, and I have no qualms about this. Delicate, soft, moody and beautiful, this album is downright perfect. Anything Miles touches has an unparalleled, incomparable mood (not to mention level of quality). It's not something to put on when you want something energetic, but if you want something to relax to, in the car after a long day, in the background while you read, simply just while you're laying down, or to set the right mood at dinner and beyond with your significant other, this is your go-to album. This album deserves all of your attention, but it happens to be quite a multi-purpose album.

From the unmistakable bass & piano intro of "So What" to the soulful classic "All Blues" to Miles' beautiful closing solo on "Flamenco Sketches," this album is an auditory treasure. It's hard to articulate just how great this album is. I often resort to using the word "beautiful" when speaking of this album and its contents, but really, if there were only one word to describe Kind of Blue, it is definitely that word. If you refuse to own more than one jazz album (which I hope only really exists in this hypothetical situation), this is the one album you should permit. Hopefully through this album you might open your mind to the wonderful world of jazz, or at least the wonderful world of Miles Davis. Really, with all of the brilliant music the man has released, there isn't entirely a need to listen to anyone else.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#179714)
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Listen to this and transport yourself back to the year 1959. I wasn't born yet myself, and you're talking about an era where progressive rock didn't yet exist. Miles Davis, however, was making progressive music and this is one of his masterpieces.

Miles moved on, as he always did, and became a major source of and inspiration for Jazz/Rock-Fusion musicians. None of the musicians on here ever went into prog rock territory though other than Miles, but this album is an important root for the J/R-F style, which Davis would soon veer off into much to the chagrin of the Jazz purists.

The tunes here were a staple for bands doing cover material at the many Piedmont Park free jazz festivals I went to as a teen. If I could only have one classic jazz album in my collection, this might be the one.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#179767)
Posted Sunday, August 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars By the late 1950's, jazz had become a family of varying styles from Dixieland to be bop to free jazz. One characteristic that plagued much of the jazz coming out at that time, be bop in particular, was the increasing tonal complexity of the arrangements. Miles Davis found the chord structures to be a bit thick for good improvisation, and he sought to buck the trend and simplify things by creating music that eschewed the tonality and atonality of be bop. Instead, the focus of improvisation would be on staying inside by utilizing simple scales within the framework of what would become modal jazz. Although Miles had already experimented with this idea on his album Milestones in 1958, he would perfect it with Kind of Blue a year later, and in the process he would create a true masterpiece.

The genius of Kind of Blue lies in the simplicity of the arrangements, which lends itself to more freedom for improvisation. For example, Paul Chambers' simple yet melodic bassline on So What is the most complex part of the piece, yet Davis, Adderley, and Coltrane are still able to stretch out, yet their solos stay within the piece's modal framework. Another example is the beautiful Flamenco Sketches. Bill Evans major 7th-based modes on piano provide the foundation for Davis' muted trumpet to soar. All Blues is straight ahead 12-bar blues in structure, but with a foundation of modes rather than a standard 3-chord progression, Davis and company create a unique sound that would be at home at either a smoky juke joint or swank jazz club.

Kind of Blue is one of those moments in musical history whose true impact wasn't felt until later. The less- is-more style of the arrangements and subsequent improvisational freedom became the blue print for the future of contemporary music, influencing the likes of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman not to mention a whole slew of jazz musicians and jam bands. It is the recording which jazz newbies reach for the most and not surprisingly has become the best selling jazz album of all time. It is a must-own recording of the highest caliber for all music fans, including fans of progressive music.

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Send comments to jimidom (BETA) | Report this review (#179927)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars For one to give this less then 5 stars only shows that the listener has no appreciation for true jazz at it's absolute finest. Timeless, flawless, stirring, beautiful blah blah blah.. All the superlatives won't draw you any nearer this albums perfectness. Get it and spin it late night with a candle, some red wine and the woman you love....... By the way, since Miles is now consideration prog, does that make Kind of Blue the first progressive rock album? Personally I still lean toward Bach and Mozart......

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Send comments to JesusisLord (BETA) | Report this review (#179972)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
darkshade
COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
4 stars You cannot deny this album. It may predate a lot of the prog on this site, but it was influential in prog, rock, jam bands, etc from the 60s and 70s and beyond. The music can only be fully appreciated at night (but is just fine during the day). This goes for most of Miles' output.

This album is the definition of 'cool'. The music can take on so many 'shapes'. For example, every time i listen to this album, i hear it in a different way. Every time!!

People say they say they see colors when listening to music. Well, Miles had it right. Blue. I have to agree with this, because when I listen to this album, I do see the color blue.

So many have already done a song-by-song analysis that i dont feel i have to. But pick up this album and explore it's wonderful musical possibilities.

I give this 5 stars because it is 'a masterpiece of progressive music'

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Send comments to darkshade (BETA) | Report this review (#179984)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars A full 5.00, but...

It certainly is odd reviewing an album that is a long standing masterpiece, one of the most (if not the most) influential and perfect albums ever created in the history of music - on a prog-rock site. I would give this a five (a six out of five if I could) under any general music or jazz site, but I don't believe in giving a masterpiece rating to an album, even this one, that has really no hints of either prog or rock, however influential is has been to musicians in both categories. It's silly that it should appear in the prog fusion top twenty, as it did at the time of this review. It is a masterpiece indeed, the likes of which come once or twice in a decade like Close to the Edge and Dark Side of the Moon.

Yet, still, it's more than even that. It has influenced me and my more jazz affiliated friends as musicians, and we're not exactly the first ones who's lives have been altered for the better by this gem. Some of the most influential prog bands were inspired by this album. The chords in Speak To Me/Breath are based on some of the exact same chord progressions in the album. Musicians around the globe are still captivated by its uniqueness, by the indescribable magical feeling that the assortment of notes somehow create, who knows how or why. It's just... perfect.

As far as this album goes for Miles Davis and the evolution of jazz, this album proceeded Milestones, in which (to my jazz-novice understanding) Miles basically started the sub-genre of jazz called modal jazz, in which most everything played by the horns was based on the modes of the scale rather than the chord structures laid out by the bass and piano. This allowed a whole lot more freedom for improvisation, a freedom that Miles had obviously mastered with this album's release, and John Coltrane would master later in his career with A Love Supreme, one of my favorite albums of all time. I would recommend both of these albums for any jazz listener, and especially ones for proggers who are new to the genre. Really, Miles Davis made tons of really incredible albums, but the only ones that probably come close to this masterpiece are Porgy and Bess and Bitches Brew (the later of which I would say definitely has to do with prog, and his fusion material overall is probably the reason why Miles should be added to this site, so I won't rate any albums a five that don't exist in that period).

I could go on for hours, but that would be pretty pointless considering the album I'm talking about, so I figured I'd end this review with the basics that I've covered, and the obvious concluding paragraph. This is a masterpiece that I think everyone should buy/find/borrow/steal (jk, sort of) immediately if they don't have this in their collection, whatever the nature of their collection. You 'ought to hear, if not immerse your ears and mind this little yet colossal piece of heaven.

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Send comments to Draith (BETA) | Report this review (#184366)
Posted Thursday, October 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars What hasn't been said about this album already? It is one of the most classic jazz albums of all time, and I love it. Blue in Green is my favorite track, followed by So What, then Flamenco Sketches. Freddie Freeloader is another great track, as is All Blues. Paul Chambers is such a great bassist, and Adderly and Coltrane just kill on saxophone. Bill Evans, Cobb, and Miles all do just a flawless job on this album as well. It's just such a classic and perfect album, that it is just a quintessential jazz album, even if it doesn't really belong on this site. I have listened to this album many times, and it always continues to reward repeated listens. Miles Davis is a brilliant musician, and this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as his influence on music goes.

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Send comments to evantate09 (BETA) | Report this review (#195041)
Posted Friday, December 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to earlyprog (BETA) | Report this review (#220158)
Posted Sunday, June 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is a stunning work of jazz that shows the beauties and intracies of the improvisations in music. It is one of the most popular jazz albums as well, so much that pretty much every fan of the genre owns the album, and any Miles Davis afficionado can probably sing along to the solos note for note.

That being said, one would be hard-pressed to find any progressive rock elements in Kind of Blue. As far as genre goes, Kind of Blue is one hundred percent jazz, with really no fusion or prog elements to go with it. Although Davis may have helped pioneer the fusion genre in the future with albums like Bitches Brew, this certainly isn't one that goes along with music in the fusion group.

Of course, progressive rock fans should always keep an open mind, and listen to music they are not accustomed to. If they haven't listened to any jazz, Kind of Blue is most likely a good introduction as any. From the low-key soft intro of "So What" to the improvisational flourishes in "Flamenco Sketches", Miles Davis and his group show the listener what the jazz is all about.

In summation, Kind of Blue is a brilliant album. However, in a progressive rock collection it may seem out of place. That being said, any music fanatic should have Kind of Blue, as it is certainly a landmark in not only jazz but all music.

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Send comments to topofsm (BETA) | Report this review (#226751)
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Kind Of Blue' - Miles Davis (8.5/10)

Jazz has never been a genre of music I've really been into, but always one I appreciate and respect at the utmost. No better example of good Jazz is there than the musical stylings of Miles Davis, a man known for constantly reinventing himself and shaking the musical community.

'Kind Of Blue' is my first introduction to the work of Miles Davis, and I have to say I am impressed, but not wholly convinced. This is the album that was called the '12th greatest album of all time' by Rolling Stone magazine. While I can certainly see the appeal in this music, it doesn't inspire me in the way a 'masterpiece' normally would.

I do not deny the musical talent of the bandmembers at all; in fact I laud them for their musical proficiency. Each and every member is in top form for this production. The only issue I really have with the album (although it is a big issue) is that the 'compositions' are far too loosely based to really be considered songs as much as jam sessions. Thats really what this album is; a jam session; a congregation of genius.

While this is the perfect album to put on in the background and mellow out to, there is simply not nearly enough variety on this album to evoke real attention, and after a few minutes, interest begins to wane. The typical song on 'Kind of Blue' usually only has one or two riffs that the backing duo (the bassist and drummer) play for nine minutes or so, with one central theme each per song. But after nine minutes or so of the same thing with what sounds like improvisational soloing over top; no matter how good the soloing is, it does get old after a while, and the same backing track for several minutes can get bland.

For what it is, 'Kind of Blue' is a masterpiece. But besides it being a purely jazz record with no progressive elements, it doesn't retain the variety and interest a masterpiece would normally have for me.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#227204)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I never thought i'd do a review for an album on this site that was released before I was born. And while I think it's good, it really does sound like a record my parents would have listened to, I mean were talking 1959 here. Sure it's a hugely significant album and for many the best of all time, but I just can't get into the older more traditional Jazz. For me the traditional stuff is black and white and it didn't become colour until ""In A Silent Way", "Bitches Brew" and other like albums came out. I love MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, RETURN TO FOREVER, HERBIE HANCOCK, TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME and WEATHER REPORT but "Kind Of Blue" just doesn't do much for me. It's tame, light, melodic and flows very well, but to my ears it's based on double bass, piano and light drums with the sax players, trumpet and piano taking turns leading over top. It's kind of predictable which is ok, and of course it's played very well.That's the understatement of the year with Davis, Coltrane, Adderley and Evans on board. I can't believe Miles released his first album in 1945, hard to wrap my mind around that one. Anyway this album was revolutionary at the time and oh so cool.

"So What" opens with piano, double bass and light drums.The tempo picks up before a minute then we get trumpet, sax and piano taking turns leading. "Freddie Freeloader" has the same mid-pace as the first track and really a similar sound and style. "Blue In Green" is tougher going for me because its slower paced and there's this background noise (Cobb) throughout. More of that noise early on the next track "All Blues" as well. "Flamenco Sketches" is very smooth and light and check out Coltrane he sounds so good.

So apologies to you Jazz fans but I prefer the experimental, atmospheric, electric Fusion that came 10 years later.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#227766)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Best selling jazz album of all times.Absolutely fantastic be bop, excelent jazz musicians line- up, Miles Davis in his perfect form. It exists tons of reviews and even books about Miles Davis and his early ( jazz/be bop) music, so I really don't think anyone here needs detailed review.

Main thing should be mentioned for newcomers: this is one of the best PURE jazz album ever, but without any traces of later fusion. So, if you want to find Miles fusion works, go to a bit later period ( "Strange Brew",for good example). Because you can be disappeared there.

But from another hand, this is GREAT jazz album, perfect possibility to everyone just to find this magic world of jazz for himself.

Highly recommended to anyone, who want to feel what the real great music is!

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#244578)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matthew T
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Jazz Masterpiece is really an understatement for this album which was recorded in March and April 1959. Anybody who likes Jazz has this album in their collection and the majority will say "this is the one" as I do. The personnel on this album are simply stunning with really a who's who of Jazz musicians. The great John Coltrane regarded by this reviewer as the greatest saxophone player ever, Julian Cannonball Adderley the alto player and who would go into jazz history with his future composition to come Mercy Mercy. Bill Evans provides piano as does Wynton Kelly (you know you are in for some fine light playing) and with the inclusion of Jimmy Cobb on drums and the ever regular great Bass player Paul Chambers you have the rythmn section. Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones were dropped because of their style which was great for Hard Bop but a bit too energetic for this album.

Miles Davis during the recording only gave each player a sketch of the compositions and provided an intro and the rest was left to them with Miles giving free rein to them in their solos and the results are spectacular.There was more than one take for these but only the completed were used except for Flamenco Sketches which has two complete takes.

The music on this album is Modal and the Hard Bop sound in Milestones has been replaced. Five tracks only are the song listing on the original release, the first being So What which is one of the specific modal pieces on the album with Blue in Green and Flamenco Sketches being the others. Freddie Freeloader and All Blues are straight jazz blues numbers. I think that describing the components of these compositions is something that you do not need to hear as if you are even remotely interested in Jazz you will like this album or know it and with every more play you will still hear something new or just be spell bound by the quality of the music and the musicians who are playing it. Atmosphere is what this album makes.

There are so many different releases to this album some with a slight speed change as they claim side one ran a tad faster than it was supposed to have originally. There are deluxe editions,SACD.Blu Spec,Shm,etc, all for you to decide on.

If the star rating for reviews was a meter it would have just blown as 5 stars does not do this totally essential album in any music collection justice. All Jazz and what a standard this record obtained and even today it holds its own, head and shoulders above the rest.

Next time you are watching In The Line of Fire ( Clint Eastwood) listen for All Blues as Clint has it on the player the old Jazz Hound.

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Send comments to Matthew T (BETA) | Report this review (#259667)
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is, quite simply, one of the greatest *recordings* ever, and as such, belongs in every music lover's collection, to be listened to again and again.

However, it is *not* prog, or even jazz fusion, but is rather "simply" jazz sublime. Here lies the problem. It's currently rated as the 27th greatest Prog album ever made. It's not a prog album, it's a straight jazz album. No electric instruments, it's all acoustic, it's all jazz. Miles gets the "jazz fusion" label because of subsequent albums. As such, the Prog Archives people really need to find a way to remove this album from the "Greatest Prog Albums" list, because it has no right to be there. Yes, it's arguably the greatest jazz album ever made.

Prog lovers are directed towards Miles' fusion albums, beginning with "In a Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew," and then "Jack Johnson," "Live-Evil" and "On the Corner."

Lovers of "Kind of Blue" should also check out the masterpieces made by his quintet in the late 60s (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams): E.S.P (1965), Miles Smiles (1966), Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1967), and Miles in the Sky (1968).

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Send comments to jude111 (BETA) | Report this review (#260887)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Ok. First, let's get a few things straight here. I'm a (big) jazz fan but I'm not a real connoisseur and neither a Miles Davis fanboy. And this should be taken literally and not being interpreted as me being a non fan. I just never listened to any of his albums till recently. So I have no idea what he did in the first 15 years or so in his career nor what he did after 1960. I was just intrigued what one of the most famous jazz albums of all times sounded like.

It appeared an interesting journey frankly. My only other older (50-60 era) jazz discovery was Hancocks The Prisoner and I was surprised to notice the sort of jazz both masters play are really not that different. Maybe in detail there are lots of differences but roughly spoken not in my perception. I even would want to go that far to say that if you like Miles you could and maybe even should like Herbie and the other way around. Both are masters of relaxing and soothing jazz and I can't get enough of this kind of music I can tell you.

To me the easy going Blue in Green and especially Flamenco Sketches are the ultimate highlights but in fact all songs are more than excellent. I know now why this man is the master of jazz but also his fellow musicians are exceptional to be fair. I would give this album probably 5 stars on a jazz site but since this is not prog I will settle for four big ones here on PA. Not to be missed in any jazz fan collection.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#268618)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
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?

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#272882)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Pure Jazz of the Extraordinary Kind.

This album screams pure cool from end to end. The tracks motorvate along at an easy pace and remind me of driving slow down a deserted highway. Everything works musically and the musicianship is virtuoso on every level. The drums are incredible, lots of hi hat shuffling and sporadic timpani beats amidst a wash of brass, especially Davis' scintillating trumpet and Coltrane's incredible saxophone. Four of the tracks have a running time of about 10 minutes give or take a minute and are quintessential Davis classics in their own right. The album is so imprinted on jazz history that it is a milestone of this legendary artist. I am not a huge fan of jazz, having dipped into Mahavishnu Orchestra and some Jazz fusion from Soft Machine, however this album is so perfectly produced that it is a definitive product of proto prog before the genre was even considered. As such it must not be ignored by any true prog addict.

So the 5 tracks are worth considering on their own merits.

Opening track is "So What", the first Miles Davis I ever heard and I knew I would be indulging in more from this prolific artist. It is sleepy music but it captivates you and is spellbinding artistry. The freeform jazz is tantalising, Cobb's drums lock into a jazz tempo. There is a staccato stabbing brass that interrupts the bass lines repeatedly and it sticks in your head as the main motif of the piece. The real star is of course that trumpet. A scorching sax solo grabs hold and impacts the atmosphere, it is quite simply stunning music.

Second track is "Freddie Freeloader" which begins with more brass overlayed by Evans' tinkling jazz piano and a climbing bass. This feels like walking down a rain soaked street at night with the neon lights dancing off the soaked roads. It even sounds like a busy night club with people bustling back n forth; it has a street sound to it of late night entertainment. A jazz club feel as you might expect to hear in any late night jazz cafe. The tenor sax sings and wails out its loneliness and pleads for you to listen and it compels you to do so. The alto sax answers and they speak in sensual tones to each other like jilted lovers trying to reconcile their differences. It is up tempo and entrancing. Then it returns to the opening phrase reminding us that we have been on a journey and it is coming to an end. One of my favourites on this album without doubt.

Third track is "Blue in Green", introduced with soft melancholy piano and bass. A very slow pace that is driven by haunting piano and an alto sax becomes the mouthpiece for the sadness that is felt. This is the saddest piece on the album and delightfully so. The type of song you listen to when the bar is about to close down and the girl you had focused your attention all night has left with someone else. You saunter over to the piano man and Bogart-like lean on the piano and listen with thoughtful reflection of what might have been. The interpretation of the music is minimalist and ethereal. This is patiently executed and there is no hurry as the sax just floats along Cobb's wire brushed drum atonal rhythm.

Fourth track is "All Blues" which locks into a quick tempo and relies heavily on the brass virtuoso playing of Coltrane, Adderley and Davis. The sax absolutely shines on this and the blues chords of piano and bass are engaging. The emotion is more joyous on this track as the cymbal riding talents of Cobb and Evans' bluesy piano arpeggios blend perfectly. The harmonious melodies of sax and trumpet drive the instrumental piece along as if travelling on a long road to an unknown destination. Towards the end the brass takes a detour and then the track fades away.

The last is a hint of what may come in "Sketches of Spain", "Flamenco Sketches" begins with a minimalist piano and gorgeous strong brass strains. The bass is very innovative with the use of heartfelt runs and some improv. I love the alto sax on this, which is dreamy and melancholy. It encompasses a Spanish flavour. It enters the soul and transfixes the listener. It is the type of music that may be sufficient for a romantic candlelit dinner for two. I can imagine the flames dancing and flickering sparks and creating a glow on the faces of the lovers who gaze into each other's eyes. It really is dinner music but too good for mere background music alone. The brushed drums are so important to this music and kind of sound like clientele whispering in the jazz bar. It feels like the end of a long night and the bar is about to close towards the end. The mood really settles into a sad sombre atmosphere and then ends abruptly.

And thus ends my first Miles Davis experience and it was a pleasant introduction with nothing else to compare at this stage from this genius of jazz. Unexpected certainly, but as good as the hype that surrounds this essential album.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#272926)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)

Bop. Pure Bop. Essential Bop.

Technically this album has very little to do with the upcoming jazz-rock/fusion movement of the late sixties and early seventies. This album shows Miles Davis playing legendary Be-Bop (walking acoustic bass, high-hat dominated drums, piano, wind-section and lot's of wind solo's). Kind of Blue has that elegant, classy jazz sound which still dominates the interpretation of the word 'jazz', or 'classic jazz'.

The idea of this album was to have long improvisations on chord-progressions with little chord-changes, which gives the album is amazing relaxing feel. The music isn't less technical, but it concentrates on the possibilities of the one chord. Guest star John Coltrane on tenor saxophone is very welcome, though the main attraction remains kind subtle, Miles Davis. His solo's are all amazing.

The album has a very balanced sound because of the five pieces that have different atmospheres. So What is has a cool sound and a good progression. Freddie Freeloader has some non-challenge in it, Blue in Green is a ballad type track, all Blues is intimate and my favorite Flamenco Sketches is magical. This last track has this amazing low pace, this perfect chord progression (which I use myself for guitar improvisations) and great atmosphere.

Perhaps this isn't essential for the progressive rock fan, but every-one open-minded for quality music will fall in love with this cornerstone of the bebop genre.

Conclusion. Buy.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#291295)
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Forget chord progressions, this post-bop jazz outing is riddled with virtuosity and is smoother than a cashmere codpiece. 'Time Out' developed jazz in a completely different way during the same year; that album was impressive, but this album is cool!

Miles Davis, in his increasingly stylish way, decided to rid jazz of its 'bulkiness' and replace those headache- inducing extended-chords with simple tonalities that weren't so much 'played' as 'suggested'. With at least 5-6 other instrumental masters on board, he led his style-army into a flurry of modal mega-jams, in which little music was dictated other than the main riffs. Continuous soloing around a pre-defined sequence (held together with pretty much the bass alone) ensured that there would never be a moment where the listener wasn't hit with something melodic. But more importantly, the music was groovy. Even today, it sucks you in and holds you prisoner for its duration, which shouldn't be seen as a bad thing. I do feel slightly imprisoned when listening to 'Kind of Blue', mainly because of the hard consistency of the music, but there is nothing less comforting for a jazz hostage than such smooth, flowingly excellent sounds.

Miles leaves clever gaps in the music, and it is in these areas that the listener occupies his time, absorbing the spacious sounds of Coltrane, Evans, Cobb, and Davis himself.... all on the same album! I wouldn't say the songs were necessarily "well- constructed" because they aren't so much 'constructions' as 'foundations' for the layering of solos on top, but they have well-thought-out structures that prevent each outgoing from becoming dull; the listener never has the door shut in their face at any point, and this is something that is rare in jazz of this era. 'So What' and 'All Blues' display this particularly well. We are equals in the Miles Davis ritual, and his musicking is an inextinguishable source of pleasure and admiration.

I can't give this famous album five stars. Not because of Prog Archives guidelines, but because, despite how much Miles has impressed me, the music just doesn't compare to his later works, or indeed to some of the jazz-rock that I have heard. I am grooved out, but I am not in love.

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Send comments to thehallway (BETA) | Report this review (#397351)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Kind of Blue is the album where MILES DAVIS produced a masterpiece by putting Bill Evans on the piano for his use of space and having a trio of horns consisting of Miles, Cannonball and Trane with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb handling the rhythm section. The modal approach was brought to the forefront and the shining of example of this being So What, this created an album with an intensely soft feel and produced five masterpiece tunes which all became standards. What was aesthetically produced on this album is nothing short of a masterpiece. This is a clear five star album.

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Send comments to jsem (BETA) | Report this review (#429620)
Posted Saturday, April 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Not, of course, a progressive rock album at all, but Kind of Blue is one of those rare albums which demand to be listen to even if you aren't a fan of the genre it arose from. The plaintive trumpet work of Miles is at the heart of the five compositions on offer, with moods ranging from the breezy, busy "So What" to the infinitely calm "Blue In Green", one of the most laid-back tracks in any genre. The rhythm section of Jimmy Cobb on drums and Paul Chambers on double bass is backed up by the piano work of Bill Evans (Wynton Kelly on "Freddie Freeloader") in order to create the perfect sonic backdrop for the main attraction - the brass instruments. The triumvirate of Davis on trumpet, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, and John Coltrane on tenor sax represents an incredible drawing together of top-drawer jazz talent, and each of the three is captured at the top of their game.

If you don't like this album, then you just don't like mid-20th Century jazz full stop. It is calmer, quieter, and above all slower than much fusion work, so if you're expecting some Mahavishnu- style shredding - or even some spacey Bitches' Brew/In a Silent Way keyboard work - you're just in the wrong place. But if you want to explore jazz, start here first. If it doesn't work for you, consider turning back; pure jazz doesn't get better than this.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#443633)
Posted Friday, May 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of a kind...

After growing dissatisfaction towards the direction bebop jazz was taking, Miles used these recordings sessions to build on his earlier experiments with modality.

The Good: Not only is this one of the greatest Jazz records of all time, it is also one of the greatest musical achievements in any genre of music. Whilst many other 'masterpieces' are only appreciated by a select minority, Kind of Blue transcends boundaries and its underlying accessibility cements its role as a portal to the entire Jazz universe.

The Bad: Whilst it was certainly groundbreaking and infinitely influential, I wouldn't necessarily associate it with prog in the tradition sense.

The Verdict: Absolutely essential.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#463435)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Miles Davis's 1959 masterpiece Kind of Blue has a reputation not only as one of the trumpeter's finest achievements in his long and illustrious career, but also as one of jazz's most essential masterworks. A timeless masterpiece indeed, Kind of Blue is the very definition of a classic jazz record in my book. Its soothing ambiance, intricate rhythmical and improvisational structures, and outstanding cast of musicians make it the perfect album for nearly every day and mood. Not to mention, of course, that Kind of Blue is the greatest selling jazz album of all time, it inspired thousands of young musicians at the time of its release, and it still continues to inspire young musicians over fifty years after its release. This is an album you must hear for historical significance alone, but the music is so terrific that I think it's essential even without all of its influence and accolades. If you like music and haven't heard Kind of Blue, you're missing out more than words can describe. This is the kind of album that everyone deserves to hear at least once. But, be warned - if you hear this album once, it will be exceptionally difficult to get it off your rotation!

The music here is often described as "cool jazz", which means that the music is heavily focused around subtle riffs, improvisations, and a gentle atmosphere. This was a rather stark departure from a lot of Miles's earlier hard bop efforts, but the quality of the music on Kind of Blue is irrefutable. This is a prime example of cool jazz at its very best; every musician is at the very top of their game, every composition is an irresistible "toe-tapper", and every solo is executed with finesse and emotion. I think it's a safe bet to claim that if you don't like Kind of Blue, then you just don't like jazz music. Mid-twentieth century jazz simply doesn't get any better than this.

Of course, it's difficult to discuss this album without talking about the strength of the musicians involved. Kind of Blue was crafted by a cast of star-studded musicians, including Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Julian Adderley (alto saxophone), Paul Chambers (double bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Bill Evans (piano), and Wynton Kelly (piano on "Freddie Freeloader"). The rhythm section lays down plenty of memorable riffs throughout the course of the album, and the solos from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Julian Adderley, and Bill Evans rank among the most memorable performances in each of their careers. The chemistry between each of these musicians is strikingly noticeable, even more than on many other Davis albums. The warm and organic production helps highlight all of the different things going on in the music, making it one of the best sounding productions from the fifties (or ever).

Kind of Blue is the sort of album that no review can do any justice. It's simply one of those records that everybody needs to hear, and it also currently stands as one of the most prized pieces of music in my collection. This is a prime example of a 5 star album if I've ever seen one. There's a reason why Kind of Blue is always found towards the top of 'greatest album of all time' lists - it truly is one of the most beautiful, moving, and impressive pieces of music you'll ever experience. Essential.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#559387)
Posted Saturday, October 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars I'm not a jazz expert, it's listening to prog bands like Area that I have discovered bop and cool jazz in general, so how can I write anything meaningful that haven't already been written about a milestone like this?

Yes, I'm not expert but I know this one. And I think everybody has listened at least occasionally, at least once to tracks like "So What" and "Freddie Freeloader". Everybody has let the notes of Miles trumpet enter his mind and remain there untile waken up by a further occasional listen.

Not only trumpet...even non-experts like me knows John Coltrane or Bill Evans. I have albums of both them, too. So what we have here? One incredible lineup made of some of the greatest jazzists ever playing some immortal tracks recorded on an album whose recording quality is incredibly good specially if we consider that it comes from the 50s.

I had the temptation to make a rating only instead of a review. I'm not really speaking of the music inside. Let's try:

There's some blues influence in all the tracks except for the closer "Flamenco Sketches", and this may be where the album's title is from. The tracks flow seamlessly with the double bass leading the structure. Trumpet and sax are the leading instruments but all the tracks seem to be built around the bass line. Evans is almost always in the background but I can't imagine those tracks without the support of the piano.It's a true ensemble.

If you haven't ever heard this album (or you think so), spin it up in a living room with warm lights, a drink or whatever else can make you relax, then just enjoy it.

Is it prog? Absolutely not. Does anybody care? Same answer.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#574773)
Posted Friday, November 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars What is there left to be said about? perfection ? Why is this album, no matter what would Miles make years ahead in the realm of jazz fusion (to be its creator, really), a pure example of jazz music, here placed in a so advanced position in a list of top Progressive Rock works ?

One question answers another. Miles is in progarchives because he made albums like Bitches Brew, influenced a load of creative and top musicians, launched the roots of jazz rock fusion; and thanks to this he is here; giving us all the opportunity to be in touch with his work and to recognize him as a genious man. So, no matter anything else, Miles is here and we can give five star to a masterpiece to be never forgotten in the music realm !

So What explains what is jazz about. Its short melodic theme enchants the listener, while improvisations that follows makes you, a new jazz lover, start to understand how jazz works. Here you see how amateur bass player like me is so far away from being a jazz player, and how jazz exposes player skills in harmony and rhythm only because expertise is needed to perform this music. Second song, Freddie Freeloader, has its melodic theme like a development of So What, it is longer and invites you to anticipate when soloists will be playing harmonies to has its point to connect again with the theme. Other songs in the album are jazz ballads; themes presented and you see here and there (All Blues), main melodic theme insinuated while solos happens.

Jazz is a hard music to hear. It takes a long time to be used with. Just a few amount of melody. Progressive Rock is more balanced; melodic beauty is well mixed with instrumental passages played with geniality. But even if hard to find when you see the enormous amount of emotion (can we really measure this ?), that a man like John Coltrane inserts with his sax solo in Blue In Green, we can perceive that a music appreciator can not be apart from jazz?

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Send comments to Antonio Giacomin (BETA) | Report this review (#636598)
Posted Monday, February 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars In the first two months of the year 1959 several significant things occurred. Alaska became the 49th state of the union, Fidel Castro became the head honcho in Cuba and, on February 3rd, Buddy Holly (along with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper) perished in a plane crash in Iowa. It was a tragic event, to be sure, and a popular song it later inspired caused it to become known as "the day the music died." If that's so it didn't stay inert for long. Early in March Miles Davis took his immensely talented sextet into the studio for the first of two sessions that would forever alter the direction of not just jazz but music in general. One might rightly refer to 3/2/59 as the "day the music rose again" in a new form. We all know that perfection is impossible to achieve this side of heaven but Miles and his posse came awfully close on "Kind of Blue." There's a reason that albums such as this one are so universally revered and honored. It is a masterpiece. In my book that word means something that cannot be improved upon. This record can't.

Davis and his band had gained substantial recognition as one of the elite hard bop combos on the scene but one glance at the group's stellar personnel will tell you that none of the members would've ever been content to stand still. Miles and pianist Bill Evans had been toying with a less formal, more modal style of jazz for a while but "Kind of Blue" was the first full immersion into that compositional concept. What they accomplished is so transcendent, so sublime, so spiritually uplifting as to be indescribable. But I'll give it a shot and, if my humble review by any measure will lead you to give this album an unbiased listen, then I'll feel that I did a good deed today.

From the moment Paul Chambers' sly, subtle double bass riff punctuated by a trio of delicate horns reaches out and arrests your undivided attention you're captivated by the enduring magic of "So What." Davis' trumpet solo and the sax rides that follow it from giants Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and John Coltrane run the entire gamut of human emotions and effectively transport you to another plane of existence. In the end Evans' piano and Chambers' bass conjure up exactly what's needed to gently draw you back to reality. At this point you know you're in the presence of true geniuses. In the bluesy "Freddy the Freeloader" the complex performances delivered atop the framework of its remarkable simplicity epitomize the very heart of jazz improvisation. One is also struck by the incredibly relaxed atmosphere they've brought into the sterile confines of the studio. This sort of aura can't be manufactured, it either happens or it doesn't, but when it manifests itself as it does here it's a wonder to behold. Drink from it. Bathe in it. Miles, Cannonball and John each touch the fringes of nirvana with their individual solos and you'll have to stifle the urge to applaud them as they finish and back out of the spotlight one at a time. The mood they sustain during "Blue in Green" is so sultry and melancholy as to qualify as an aural definition of those words. Bill's piano is so graceful and expressive it makes your eyes get misty and the way the trumpet and both saxophones tiptoe across the top is mesmerizing. This piece of music would be right at home in a smoky bar or in a fancy concert hall. Its ability to unlock the dark, hidden rooms of your soul and fill them with the healing power of music is amazing.

The second half of the album was recorded seven weeks later but it sounds as if not a nanosecond of time elapsed in the interim because there's no change in the creative climate to be detected at all. Davis' classic "All Blues" approaches like a slow train in the distance as the sextet's unique combination of gifted horn players implant the tune's classic melody directly into your subconscious where it plants a flag. The never-intrusive Jimmy Cobb's drums give this number a living, breathing swing groove that fuels some of the best individual solos you'll ever hear. Miles, Cannonball, John and Bill soar freely like eagles in a crisp autumn sky and to be able to sit with one's eyes closed, absorbing their art without interruption, is one of the joys of existence. The technique of applying a muting device to a trumpet's bell has never been more properly displayed or wielded as skillfully as Davis does on "Flamenco Sketches." Listening to the band perform this song is like watching great painters at work side by side, creating a stunning impressionistic mural with every color imaginable. While you're caught up in the majesty of this astounding tune you get the feeling that there's no place you'd rather be at the moment than in the same room (figuratively, of course) with these virtuosos. This caliber of jazz can alter your frame of mind and instantly transport you to a better world. The disc I own has an alternative take of this number and, while it's not quite as wistful, it still stands on its own with no asterisk necessary. It goes to show how playing "in the moment" was more important to this ensemble than dutifully following some prescribed chart of chords and directions. It's the same song in structure but it possesses a wholly different ambience and feel.

As I tap out this essay on the 53rd anniversary of the initial session I stand in awe of how a handful of flesh and bones musicians could make so huge an impact in the evolution of music. This record marks a definitive turning point in its glorious history. What makes it even more miraculous is that Miles Davis gave his cohorts the barest of instructions about what they were to play, desiring only that they summon every ounce of their creativity and let it flow into the music unencumbered by the regimen of a score. Usually a first-of-its-ilk album has some rough edges. Not this one. No wonder "Kind of Blue" is one of the top-selling jazz records of all time and considered a vital cornerstone disc in any collection. The number of musicians influenced by this album is incalculable. Its strains can be heard in all genres, from rock & roll to modern classical movements and will continue to reverberate throughout the music trends of generations to come. Is it the greatest jazz album? That's up to the individual to decide but there's no denying that it is far beyond reproach and deserves to be held in the highest of esteem by all mankind.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#644562)
Posted Friday, March 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars How do you properly size up one of THE landmark marquee jazz albums of all time? I'm going to try to offer the perspective of first hearing KIND OF BLUE fifty-two years after its initial release and being more attracted to Miles's fusion/electric period in the late '60s. But after a couple of listens, I now understand why KIND OF BLUE is so widely lauded.

The key thing to understand is that from a prog rock viewpoint, this does not typify anything we call ''prog'' or even fusion; it is pure, unabashed jazz. But it sounds fresh, even if you weren't around back in 1959 to hear it in its inaugural format. It sounds like no specific time period, so it's unlikely you'll be repelled by KIND OF BLUE unless you have a natural aversion to jazz.

The structure is quite simple; the drums take the rhythm, the piano lays the chord patterns down (unusual ones compared to safer music styles), the bass walks through everything and the horns melodize/solo over everything. If you have any familiarity with Miles Davis's music ethos, you know the solos are well-planned even if improvised, sounding welcome and never spiking it on the indulgence scale. With Davis on trumpet and Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane on saxophones, there's some wonderful soloing.

Most of all, this album is pure joy to listen to if you can take a bit of pure jazz. The feel of songs like ''So What'', ''All Blues'' and ''Freddie Freeloader'' are enough to hook the listener in, but calmly. What the rhythm section does keeps me sucked in long enough not to skip anything with the solos being the icing on the cake. Nothing is overdone or unwarranted.

Within PA, the later '60s, early '70s albums of Davis's should be what a prog/fusion fan should go after first. If you like music in general, this classic is too good to pass up.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#744482)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Many Jazz aficionados agree that this is one of the best jazz albums, if not THE best. It is easy to see why. Composition-wise, Davis really struck a creative chord and came up with some truly brilliant stuff. The opening riff to 'So What' should be enough to validate my case.

But this isn't completely Davis's doing. His all-star cast of musicians plays a very big role in the sound. Coltrane is regarded as the best sax player, and Cannonball Adderley has plenty of chops as well. Bill Evans can solo and function as rhythm equally well, and the rhythmic duality of Chambers/Cobb is flawless as well.

Though 'So What' is probably the most well-known song, the rest are just as good. 'Freddie Freeloader' is a bluesy number with a fantastic opening piano part. 'Blue In Green' and 'All Blues" serve a beautiful contrast, with the former being subdued and quiet, and the latter being more up-tempo and aggressive. 'Flamenco Sketches ends the album with the first half dominated by sax and trumpet, with the second half showing off Bill Evans' gentle touch on keys.

There you have it, one of the best jazz albums in history. Though this has little to do with prog, I still believe it is a cornerstone album in jazz and deserves an appropriate rating.

9/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#771441)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some might argue whether Kind of Blue, one of the best known and most revered JAZZ albums, may not belong in the PROG ROCK discussion, but I think it fits just perfectly .. perhaps better than some "true blue" prog bands :)

For one thing, this kind of music was truly progressive: Mr. Davis, along with other founding fathers of contemporary music had just invented the whole genre of modal jazz (and Kind of Blue came to be one of the purest examples of this genre). For another, Mr. Davis and his comrades-in-arms begot a few other jazz genres, including fusion, which undoubtedly provided inspiration and spiritual nourishment to the proto-proggers that were out there in the early 1960s.

Instead of dissecting and classifying Kind of Blue, I'd recommend that you invest into a CD (even better, a vinyl LP) - I have just seen on Amazon a 2nd hand CD for $0.23. It's the kind of music you can play in the background, or while driving/dining/reading, or you could sit down and concentrate on the details and try to decipher and unscramble the masterfully interwoven melody lines and modal progressions .. every time you listen to it, you will walk away with a slightly different impression and different set of reverberating vibes .. at least I do :)

Ten stars out of five :)

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Send comments to Argonaught (BETA) | Report this review (#856082)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Kind of Blue was the first jazz record I ever owned; I think I got it just because it was so renowned. It was the record that got me into jazz, although it's not my favorite genre. Therefore, although I wouldn't consider myself a jazz expert, Kind of Blue has to be one of the cornerstone albums in jazz history.

One of the things I love about Kind of Blue is how it's arranged. By that I mean how it alternates between slower tracks and quicker tracks. If my memory is good, the first three tracks were on side 1 of the LP, and "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" made up side 2. It flows very well. The musicians are beyond reproach. Bill Evans swings more on this album than he's sometimes given credit for, I think.

My favorite tracks are probably the first three. "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" go on a bit too long for my tastes, but that's a very minor complaint. Also, Kind of Blue couldn't be considered jazz fusion in any way, so it lives on the edge of a progressive rock website. Only those two factors cause me to dock Kind of Blue a half star. I give 4 and 1/2 stars to one of the most important records in jazz history.

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Send comments to thwok (BETA) | Report this review (#1151317)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars - Hello, Kind of Blue!

- Hi, Batbacon!

- Say, Kind of blue! Do you consider yourself to be a progressive rock album?

- No, don't be silly! I'm just an totaly amazing jazz record!

- So how come the high rating then? You are aware that this is a site about progressive rock?

- Well, I guess people mostly are just looking for good music, progressive or not.

- So should I give you a high rating then, or what?

- Sure, I deserve it!

I was going to any way, because this is one of my favorite albums of all time. The best jazz album of all time, no doubt at all. Its nothing progressive going on here, no Mahavishnu or Return to Forever. Its just a bunch of really chill jazz songs and I guess thats the reason its so good. Most of the musicians playing on this record is famous for being jazz virtuosos, playing quick and complex music, demanding a lot from the listener. On this record it seems they all took a chill pill before going in to the studio. With other terms, they kept it simple and minimalistic.

The album starts of with the cool "So What". The first thing you hear is the piano intro, setting the mood for not only the song, but for the whole album. With Bill Evans in front of the piano you know exactly which kind of jazz to expect, calm and thoughtful. He belongs to the pianists who never play a note to many, picking out exactly the notes needed for the song. Think about how Richard Wright would sound if he played jazz, and you get Bill Evans. But I don't think he ever played with a band this good before or after the recording of Kind of Blue. Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Cannonball at their best, finding great tunes within their passionate solos. They are not famous for being this calm and minimalistic, but it suits them fantastically well.

The slow tempo creates a kind of sad mood, especially on songs like "Blue in Green" and "Flamenco Sketches". Imagine sitting in a window looking out on a rainy town, lit by neon lights and the moon itself. You can hear nothing but the rain against the window, except from the lonely guy across the street, playing a sad song on his saxophone. Its really moody but oh, so beautiful.

This is what jazz should be like; More cool than awesome. Less is more, yes indeed!

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Send comments to BatBacon (BETA) | Report this review (#1158944)
Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2014 | Review Permalink

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