I have been in a Miles Davis listening mood recently. Maybe with everything that has happened so far in 2020 from the death of Kobe Bryant, the upcoming 2020 presidential election, and now the global pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has made it a tumultuous start to a new year.
Kind of Blue is one of those albums I have kept coming back throughout my adult life. I have listened to it while cleaning the house, having dinner (with a glass of Malbec or Merlot wine), or played at high volume in my car while driving to and from my day job. Davis’ most famous and well-regarded album can be listened to on several levels. This is one of the main reasons it does not sound dated or out of place sixty years after being recorded.
There has been a lot written and spoken about Kind of Blue. I’m not a musical historian or professor, but I love splendid music. This album deserves that moniker, and I want to share why it’s a favorite. The personnel has Davis on the trumpet, John Coltrane on Tenor Saxophone, Cannonball Adderley on Alto Saxophone, Bill Evans on Piano, Wynton Kelly on Piano for Freddie Freeloader, Paul Chambers on Double Bass, and Jimmy Cobb on Drums. This set of musicians has been considered by jazz historians as Davis’ first great Quintet.
Kind of Blue has five songs on the original release from August 1959. So What is the most well-known of the songs and considered a jazz standard. This song has been covered by some of the biggest names in jazz like Grant Green, Ron Carter, George Benson, Ronny Jordan and Chick Corea to name a few. It is one of those songs when you first hear it sets the mood for the remaining tracks to follow.
Freddie Freeloader is the next song and must admit that I like it more than So What. There is a blues element to this song and a great follow up to the opening track. Blue in Green is the third song on the original album, and this song changes pace from the previous two songs. It is the first ballad on the album and a great song that makes you pay attention.
All Blues is the next song and has become my favorite on the album. It is the longest song at 11 minutes, 32 seconds, but is the most dance-friendly tune on Kind of Blue. I have played this song more times than any of the others on the album. A great track with a lot of swing. Flamenco Sketches is the last song on the original release and the second ballad. The solos by Coltrane and Adderley add beauty to a somber song. This tune brings Kind of Blue to a magnificent close.
Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album of all time. It is the album that has transcended the genre and has a permanent place in modern American music. Thank you Miles Davis for recording a slice of beauty over sixty years ago and still has deep resonance for me today. It is a musical balm that I need as we dealt with the challenges in 2020.