Miles Davis is my favorite jazz trumpeter, and his album Kind of Blue is one of my two favorite jazz albums (I’ll tell you the other later). I literally listen to it every day. The song Blue in Green plays as my weekday morning alarm. And, when I have to set an alarm on the weekend, I wake up to Flamenco Sketches. A blaring alarm is not a pleasant way to start a day. Instead, I can wake up calmly and start my day that way.
“Ethereal, Emotional, and Elegant”– David Cox
Kind of Blue was recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959 and released on August 17, 1959 by Columbia Records. The album is often regarded as the best-selling jazz record of all time, recently being certified Quintuple Platinum – over five million copies. I’m responsible for three of those purchases, as I have two copies on CD and one on vinyl.
The album features the sextet consisting of saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Davis’s regular pianist Wynton Kelly replaced Evans on just one track, Freddie Freeloader. Miles wanted to work with Bill Evans on the album, because the two of them were experimenting with modal jazz. Now I don’t know about playing music. But, modal jazz has something to do with holding a chord or note longer than normal. All I know is… it’s a masterpiece.
Besides the incredible music, one of the things that makes this album iconic is the story behind it. In fact, there is a whole book written about it, The Making of Kind of Blue. Miles Davis and Bill Evans were the only two that were playing modal jazz. It was new to the others. And the result – all of the tracks on the album are first takes. If you’ve never listened to Kind of Blue, I suggest you listen to it a few thousand times. Finally, my other favorite jazz album, A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.