Jazz entered my life in the 6th grade. My main instrument is the baritone horn (otherwise known as the euphonium). Now of course, the baritone horn is no instrument for a jazz band, but my band director, a jazz guy at heart, asked me to play trombone for the middle school jazz band. However, the next year, we needed a bass player. I stepped up and learned the instrument in just enough time to play with the band. My playing was rather poor, but in jazz bass I found a love for jazz. The next year, I started listening to jazz on my own time, and found this album, Kind of Blue, as my first jazz listening experience.
Kind of Blue is Miles' magnum opus. His greatest production and standing against the best jazz albums ever recorded. Every member of this particular ensemble could be counted in the top 5 of their instrument category. Davis, Coltrane, Evans, and Chambers are all widely considered the best jazz (instrument here) ever.
The mix of Coltrane and Davis blends together perfectly. Miles, usually soloing first, steps up and plays a sweet, long tone heavy solo that just sounds beautiful. His trumpet tone is unrivaled, and with a sound like that, there is no need for a blisteringly fast solo. In the ballad, Blue in Green, Miles pulls out his trusty mute and seduces the listener with his simple yet beautiful ballad melodies. Coltrane exists for just that purpose, playing solos at blistering speeds and assaulting your eardrums with the craziest tritone substitutions and other funky jazz theory ever attempted in jazz. The raspy tenor sax demands that you listen and takes the focus away from everything going on in the world. Never again will the world hear such a mastery of improvisation and melodic beauty from a duo as dynamic as Miles and Coltrane.
The rhythm section never sounded better. James Cobb sits in the background, keeping the swing beat and the tempo in lock. He plays fills where needed, and seems like he knows all the solos ahead of time and plays perfect fills to go along with them. His tasteful drumming almost goes unnoticed sometimes, as it just sits in the background, sometimes inaudible but still obviously there. Paul Chambers' basslines are smart, masterful, and fit in just right with the sound of whatever song is playing. His triplet fills divert the listener's attention from the solo for a split second, and then fades back into the background, letting the soloist have their glory. The basslines never tire; Chambers mixes things up by going high, staying high for a while, and climbing back down to the lowest reaches of his string bass. Bill Evans (or Wyn Kelly) accents the chords with exquisite voicings and perfect timing. Lying in the background but always prevalent, the piano adds that final touch that Chambers and Cobb can't achieve on their instruments. Together, the three players create a perfect rhythm section for Davis, Coltrane and the occasional Adderly to solo overtop.
As far as milestones that this album set, there are many. Freddie Freeloader may quite possibly be the most well known Bb blues ever. The simple horn melody infests your brain and never leaves. Wyn Kellyâ€™s piano solo is great, which leads into another unmistakable Miles Davis solo. The dominant seventh change on the first ending makes Freddie Freeloader stand out from the other Bb blues tunes out there, and sets a dark tone to lead into the reprise of the melody. All Blues is the first modal blues ever recorded, not to mention it being a blues waltz. So What introduced chords that became known as the "So What Chords". Bill Evans voiced his chords as the root, eleventh, seventh, third, and fifth of a minor seventh chord. Cannonball makes his best showing in All Blues, showing he really knows how to use a modal blues. The beautiful ballad Blue in Green is rumored to actually have been a Bill Evans composition even though Miles takes the credit, and the chord structures, as always, are absolutely revolutionary and superb. Every song produced something that would not be forgotten in the jazz world. To top it all off, Kind of Blue has topped countless jazz charts as being the number 1 jazz album ever.
I recommend every track, as they are all excellent and fun to listen to.
[quote=review]His greatest production and the best jazz album ever recorded. The only other recordings that rival this are his own.[/quote] I completely disagree with this comment but aside from this your review was detailed and well written, good job.
Coltrane gets to me after a few minutes, I can't handle all his blaring, and I haven't gotten my hands on good quality Dizzy or Charlie Parker recordings. I'm open to other albums people find equal to this.
Well, Davis and Coltrane are certainly in a league of their own. Even though a group of guys ranging from Freddie Hubbard to Ornette Coleman to Thelonious Monk to Charles Mingus to even Wynton Marsalis have made albums you could argue are as good as Kind of Blue, the incredible thing is that Davis and Coltrane each released a high number of albums of that quality. Coleman may have made The Shape of Jazz to Come, but Davis made this in addition to Sketches of Spain, Birth of the Cool. A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Miles Smiles and all of his other landmark album.
This album is a tad overrated, but that is only because it is always called THE BEST JAZZ ALBUM EVER. That is pretty hard hype to live up to.
And bassist, if Coltrane gets to you after a few minutes, try some later Coltrane. Not his free jazz stuff, but most of his Impulse! albums. They aren't as crazy as Giant Steps in terms of speed and technique.
[quote=Wikipedia]In 1944 Davis moved to New York City, ostensibly to take up a scholarship at the Juilliard School of Music. In reality, however, he neglected his studies and immediately set about tracking down Charlie Parker. His first recordings were made in 1945, and he was soon a member of Parker's quintet, appearing on many of Parker's seminal bebop recordings for the Savoy and Dial labels. Davis's style on trumpet was already distinctive by this point, but as a soloist he lacked the confidence and virtuosity of his mentors, and was known to play throttled notes (a trademark of Davis's) and to sometimes stumble during his solos.[/quote]
I don't mean to be elitist. It's just that posting an authoritative review when you don't know simple facts like that is in bad taste. Your opinion on the album is perfectly valid and valuable to interested readers, but a sour taste is left in the informed reader's mouth when you start a review with a paragraph that establishes you as someone with little handle on the history of the music you're about to dissect.
I did read on a little bit, and found blanket statements claiming that Miles is the only one who has come close to contesting the greatness of this album, etc. It just reads like someone re-spouting things they read, but upping the hyperbole a notch. Try listening to and interpreting the album on your own terms, and then writing about it. That—an emotional response from a devoted listener—is something worth reading about.
I originally wrote this review, it went something like this:
"Little known fact: Jazz was created and died during this recording. Coltrane dabbled in it abit too, but that was mostly the drugs talking so it doesn't count."
-Rams being a dick, on Kind of Blue
[quote="bassist201"]Kind of Blue is Miles' magnum opus. His greatest production and the best jazz album ever recorded. The only other recordings that rival this are his own. Every member of this particular ensemble could be counted in the top 5 of their instrument category. Davis, Coltrane, Evans, and Chambers are all widely considered the best jazz (instrument here) ever.[/quote]
Welcome to Jazz. Oddly enough there are some thousands of top 5 saxophonists, trumpet players, pianists, drummers, and [insert other instrument here] in Jazz.
Okay, seriously. It's a good review, but it's too much hyperbolic text and not enough critical review. Yeah, Kind of Blue is awesome, to the point that it is one of my top 50 jazz albums, but it's not like everything and everyone else pales in comparision to this. You sell to many other Jazz efforts and people short if you truly believe nothing else compares.This Message Edited On 07.01.06