Monday, August 17, 2009

Kind of Blue

. Monday, August 17, 2009

This has nothing at all to do with IPE, but today marks the 50th birthday of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. It is the best-selling jazz album of all time, and (like many people) the first one I owned. I'm not sure it's my favorite jazz album, but it was a gateway drug for me: it led me to ingest more and more jazz in greater and greater quantities. You can trace the past and future of jazz through that record: Coltrane -- whose landmark album Giant Steps was released just a few months after Kind of Blue --played on it, as did Cannonball Adderley. Prior to that album Davis had played in bands with Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker. After it, Davis' bands included Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin. The final death of bebop's hegemony in the jazz world was not only augured by Kind of Blue; it was caused by it. The space that Davis and others would soon occupy -- free jazz, fusion -- would have been impossible without the tectonic shift in jazz from chord-centric swing and bebop to "modal" jazz. In a very real sense, Kind of Blue represents the high-water mark of jazz's popular and artistic appeal.

Fred Kaplan has a nice article on the album here. Below is a short (8 minute) documentary on the record and a live performance (with Coltrane) of Kind of Blue's classic opening track, "So What".


Kind of Blue




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