Review Summary: A relaxing jazz album with plenty of expression and talented playing that lacks any real standout momments.
Kind of Blue is the most successful and famous jazz album period. So I’ll say right off the bat that if anyone is at all looking to start listening to jazz, this where you begin, so do yourself a favor and don’t even read my review; just go buy the album. Everything is here on this 5 track record; the long solo’s, melodic piano, light drumming, and of course the magnificent tone of Miles Davis’s trumpet. Through his use of mutes and ability to blow into his horn with a consistent flow of energy for minutes, Davis plants himself as a true jazz musician. Along with other famed players backing him up, such as saxophonist John Coltrane and piano player Bill Evans, Kind of Blue is a certain highlight during the years that jazz thrived.
To people who are educated in jazz music, Kind of Blue is often labeled as overrated. That’s somewhat true considering Davis didn’t do anything too unique or interesting and played fairly simple music that had been being played well before Kind of Blue came out in 1959. But truly, he performed this jazz music so damn well on top of the fact he had an all-star line up of experienced musicians in his arsenal. Each one of them are fantastic and each have a different moment in which they shine. The string bass of Paul Chambers carries the music through as he pulls the strings in a clean, powerful tone creating a colorful background behind the trumpet and saxophone soloing most notably on So What. Bill Evens sets the tone at the beginning of each song and shows off a fair amount of skill especially on All Blues. Throughout each song these musicians keep the energy present and the mood consistent. On Kind of Blue, one of its greatest features is the mood the album creates. Each track sounds relaxed from beginning to end. This relaxed, carefree mood calms the listener while entertaining you with impressive soloing and wonderful style and expression.
All five of the songs on Kind of Blue carry a similar pattern as well as mood. All being based off of Bill Evans quiet piano chords, they usually start out with a piano melody accompanied by the bass and then, of course, the drums, all drawing you into the atmosphere of the song. Then suddenly Miles Davis jumps right into the track fitting the other instruments perfectly. The first time you hear his amazing tone over the bass playing on So What, you immediately pick up on his talent. He plays the trumpet if he is speaking to his listener, performing tones with expression and a variety of styles to make his long soloing seem interesting as well as melodic. Then he passes the weight on to his saxophonists, John Coltrane and “Cannonball” Adderly who take turns playing around with the melody. After a while, the song returns to its beginning theme than gradually fades out. This pattern is really used on every one of the songs, which sounds a little unfortunate as if it might make the music less interesting and enjoyable, but each song has a fairly different style to it and each time a player solos, they make it wildly different and unique. Blue in Green is a slow, easy track on the album. Bill Evans gentle piano constructs a beautiful melody in which Davis expands with a captivating emotional sense. Flamenco Sketches is a very unique, almost haunting jazz tune, which has two different versions, both fairly similar. My personal favorite, Freddie Freeloader is a lighter track that contrasts the other songs with some wonderful, gaudy piano work over a walking bass line. Kind of Blue may retain a similar mood throughout, but each song has a unique style to it.
The biggest thing to consider when buying this album is that it’s a jazz album. That means lots of soloing and repeating. These songs are over 9 minutes long (except for Blue in Green) and usually keep the same or similar chord progression through the whole time. That’s part of jazz though. That’s how it’s supposed to be played and its unfortunate that some of these tracks have the occasional boring spots, usually at the end. Kind of Blue is a moody album, and considering it has a reclined mood to it, the record doesn’t have any really standout moments or wild crescendos, key changes or drums solos. Nothing like that; just a lot of expression and a lot of wonderful tones and melodies that really make Kind of Blue the famous record that it is. Jazzy, amazingly well played, and a relaxing mood probably no album can beat; Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue is nearly perfect.
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