Kind of Blue | The most important album in Jazz
It was 25 years ago yesterday that Miles Davis sadly left us and when debating what records to go through last night, there is one that will always take preference. A pioneering record of 20th-century music and one of the most important and influential albums in jazz: Kind of Blue.
New York, 1959 was when Davis and his band, including the legendary Bill Evans and John Coltrane, turned their back on standard chord progressions of that era. Davis instead introduced modal scales as a starting point for composition and improvisation on ‘Kind of Blue’ and in one session, a handful of takes and just a few hours of recording, he produced a remarkable album – breaking new ground with warmth, subtlety and understatement, at a time of a more focused and assertive edged style of hard bop jazz.
This new approach from Davis allowed his players a new and collected freedom. Bill Evans wrote in his original liner notes:
Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore, you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances.
It is the influence of this album that makes it the most important Jazz album. It subsequently led John Coltrane to take Miles’ modal template and take it to new terrain, becoming one the most significant artists in music history with the defining ‘A Love Supreme’.
There is no finer expression of the late-night solace of jazz, and it’s improvisation and sophistication still stands alone. It’s not necessary to explain that this is essential listening, but if you have not yet experienced the pleasure of ‘Kind of Blue’ and even if you are not a fan of jazz, this could be the album to change that. When you have, take the time to just sit and listen, Quincy Jones claims to play it every day.