Miles Davis'Kind of Blue, which was released 50 years ago today, is a nearly unique thing in music or any other creative realm: Everyone, even people who say they don't like jazz, likes Kind of Blue. It's cool, romantic, melancholic, and gorgeously melodic. But why do critics regard it as one of the best jazz albums ever made?
But why do critics regard it as one of the best jazz albums ever made? What is it about Kind of Blue that makes it not just pleasant but important? Parker and his trumpeter sidekick, Dizzy Gillespie—Bird and Diz, as they were called—had launched the jazz revolution of the s, known as bebop.
Their concept was to take a standard blues or ballad and to improvise a whole new melody built on its chord changes. This in itself was nothing new. But they took it to a new level, extending the chords to more intricate patterns, playing them in darting, syncopated phrases, usually at breakneck tempos.
The problem was, Parker not only invented bebop, he perfected it. There were only so many chords you could lay down in a bar blues or a bar song, only so many variations you could play on those chords. By the time he died, even Parker was running out of steam.
A decade later, he, too, was wondering what to do next. The answer came from a friend of his named George Russell who died just last month at the age of For instance, a C chord is C-E-G. This distinction may seem slight, but its implications were enormous.
Russell threw the compass out the window. You could play all the notes of a scale, which is to say any and all notes. It becomes a challenge to see how melodically inventive you are. There will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them. This was a radical notion. Laying down the chords—supplying the frontline horn players with the compass that kept their improvisations on the right path—was what modern jazz pianists did.
Evans was conservatory-trained with a penchant for the French Impressionist composers, like Ravel and Debussy, whose harmonies floated airily above the melody line. Davis hired Evans for his next recording date, the session that became Kind of Blue, which would be the perfect expression of this new approach to playing.
The clearest example of its novelty is a piece, composed without credit by Evans, called "Flamenco Sketches. The band plays the head, then each player improvises on the chords.
But for "Flamenco Sketches," Evans had jotted down the notes of five scales, each of which expressed a slightly different mood.
At the top of the sheet, he wrote, "Play in the sound of these scales. Both were astonishingly adept improvisers, but they built their creations strictly on chords, Adderley as an acolyte of Charlie Parker with a gospel-infused toneColtrane as an almost spiritual explorer, searching for the right sound, the right note, mapping out his voyage on charts of chords, piling and inverting chords on top of chords, expanding each note of a chord to a new chord, not knowing which combinations might work and therefore trying them all.
A few months after the Kind of Blue sessions, Coltrane led his own band on an album called Giant Steps, which pressed this quest to its ultimate degree—literally: But on Kind of Blue, especially "Flamenco Sketches," he took his first—and most lyrical—step out on that brink: Evans writes that, for "Flamenco Sketches," the improvisations on each scale can last "as long as the soloist wishes.
For this track alone, Miles let his usual pianist, Wynton Kelly, a straight blues-and-bebop keyboardist, sit in for Evans: Now contrast these conventional bop pieces with the most fully developed piece of "modal" jazz" on Kind of Blue, called "All Blues": So Kind of Blue sounded different from the jazz that came before it.
But what made it so great? The answer here is simple: They came to the date, were handed music that allowed them unprecedented freedom to sing their "own song," as Russell put itand they lived up to the challenge, usually on the first take; they had a lot of their own song to sing.
It opened up a whole new path of freedom to jazz musicians: There was no sequel. Soon after the recording date, the band broke up.
Kind of Blue is a one-shot deal, so dreamily perfect you can hardly believe someone created it.
Which is why it remains so deeply satisfying, on whatever level you experience it, as moody background music or as the center of your existence. Return to the corrected sentence.May 24, · So I´ve been practicing Tune-Up by Miles Davis. Great tune, good II V I workout and there´s some really nice recordings out there Miles Davis, Grant Green, Chet Baker 5/5(5).
Miles Davis trumpet solo on So What - mp3 sound clips transcription and analysis by Steve Khan. Soundclip: I happened to hit upon the "Jazz Channel" offered by Music Choice® and I came upon Miles' solo over his own tune, "So What." Of course, I have heard this tune, this solo countless times, for pleasure, and for study.
"Fun" by Miles Davis 2 Miles Davis originally recorded this piece on January 11, , and it wasn't released until as a part of compilation album "Directions". George Cole, who wrote The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, , explains why Davis is so important and breaks down the key tracks.
Miles Davis Solo Transcription of Oleo. By. Camden Hughes. 0. Share. Facebook. Twitter. Oleo is arguably the most common Rhythm Changes tune, and so studying Miles’ solo is very valuable. YOU MUST LISTEN TO THE MILES SOLO when you learn it! it’s even more valuable to transcribe solos on your own!
You will also want to do some. Since some here found my analysis of Miles Davis's "Circle" useful, I am posting my analysis of "So What," excerpted from the same book, The Influence of Claude Debussy's and Maurice Ravel's Music on Jazz, as Seen in the Compositions of Bix Beiderbecke, Bill Evans and Miles Davis, by .