Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Miles Davis Kind of Blue & Show # 442

Kind of Blue was released by Miles Davis in 1959 and has gone on to be called one of the greatest Jazz albums of all time and one of the most commercially successful Jazz albums ever. But what is it about this album that makes it so great and what is it that makes people respond this way? The road to this album was a long one, Miles had previously released music in a Hard Bop Jazz style prior to this albums release in 1959. After years of playing that particular style of Jazz he began to grow disillusioned and dissatisfied with it, Miles felt as he said in Ashley Khan’s Kind of Blue: The Making of The Miles Davis Masterpiece that the complexity of the chord structures in the songs were limiting his creativity. Here is a quote from Miles Davis from that book that elaborates more on what I am referring to:

"No chords ... gives you a lot more freedom and space to hear things. When you go this way, you can go on forever. You don't have to worry about changes and you can do more with the [melody] line. It becomes a challenge to see how melodically innovative you can be. When you're based on chords, you know at the end of 32 bars that the chords have run out and there's nothing to do but repeat what you've just done—with variations."

Miles Davis began to experiment with a new style of Jazz which stripped away this complex structure simplifying what he did, as a result leaving more room for improvisation within each song. Not to get too technical, but the style is based on Jazz Modal scales and structures. This style was first experimented and recorded on 1958’s Milestone. On this album Miles first ventured into the aforementioned Jazz Modal style which he would expand on more on Kind of Blue. Kind of Blue was made up of two recording sessions both done at Columbia 300th Street Studio in New York City. The first three tracks (“So What”, “Freddy Freeloader”, “Blue In Green”) were all recorded on March 2nd, 1959, while the last two tracks (“All Blues” and "Flamenco Sketches”) were recorded on April 29th, 1959. Another interesting fact about this album is that all of the tracks featured on this release are the first recorded takes of the song. This is partially due to two factors one, the band that is found on these recordings and two, the process in which these songs were created and recorded.

For these songs the band had no idea what they were going to sound like prior to recording them, the were only given what was commonly referred to as “sketches” by Miles Davis which were given to the band just before recording the songs. They weren’t told specifically what the songs were going to be, but given a general idea of what was to be played. The band was made up of an all star cast of musicians John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on sax, Paul Chambers on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums and of course Miles Davis on trumpet. The combination of experienced musicians and improvisation on each song captured a certain spontaneity that people identified with. The atmosphere and mysteriousness that is captured on this recording is part of what makes it so beloved, because even non Jazz fans know about it and like it. Kind of Blue was released on August 17th, 1959 and greatly influenced and helped to shape the future of Jazz music and music in general going beyond Jazz having a huge impact on Rock and Classical music genres. Even more than fifty years after its release people are still discovering Kind of Blue and talking about it.

This Week's Play List:

1. John Coltrane – Village Blues
2. Sun Ra – Enlightenment
3. John Lee Hooker – Devil's Jump
4. Leadbelly – Ella Speed
5. Marie Knight – Come On Baby
6. Dave Bartholomew – Hey Hey
7. Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey
8. James Eastwood – Darkest Night
9. Tawny Reed – Needle In A Haystack
10. Chuck Berry – Tulane
11. Albert & Charles Bedeaux– Weird
12. Rudy Greene – Wild Life
13. James Berry – Spider Bite Blues
14. Grant Green – Speak Low
15. Miles Davis – Freddie Freeloader
16. Miles Davis – Blu In Green
17. Otis Redding – You Don't Miss Your Water
18. U-Roy & The Tree Tops – Do It Right
19. Howlin’ Wolf – Moanin’ At Midnight
20. James Brown – I Can’t Stand It

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 5. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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