Kind of Blue - Miles Davis

reviewed by lec** | Friday, November 06 2009 @ 01:09:13 GMT        

Cover art

Kind of Blue

Release date: August 17, 1959
Length: 45:44
Genre: Jazz

  1. So What
  2. Freddie Freeloader
  3. Blue In Green
  4. All Blues
  5. Flamenco Sketches
  6. Flamenko Sketches (alt. take)
Reviews » Music

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I don't actually generally like jazz that much. The soft drums, the linear bassline and especially the haphazard way in which the musicians play isn't always appealing to me. The more widely-appealing artists of the jazz/blues genres are really what I usually listen to, like Norah Jones, Louis Armstrong and Diana Krall. Doubtless, it has a charm and warmth that no other genre has, and that's what I like.

Miles Davis is almost synonymous with "jazz". This influential man made jazz what it is today, so look him up if you're not familiar with his life and other work. Among other things, he made this outstanding album, Kind of Blue. I hope to do the album some justice in this review by describing the emotional effect it has on me.

First of all, it's cool. Really, you'll get that impression as you listen to it. Jazz may have that property, but this album in particular has a kind of laid-back, sleek cool about it. It's calm throughout, and plain beautiful melodically -- it's got a progressive, flowing quality. The structure of most of the compositions is similar. The piano, drums and bass provide a simple repeating backbone off which Miles builds up on with his trumpet, and Coltrane with his sax. The solos are completely heart-felt, and absorbed. It's perfect for relaxation, casual listening as well as swinging to the tunes. In my own experience, no other album comes close to creating the kind of feel Kind of Blue does in the early hours of the morning on summer nights when I'm at home and just relaxing. Dissolve it in some whiskey, and away you go.

What is it with this album? Surely other jazz or chillout albums come close. The answer is, I don't think so. Kind of Blue has a unique pace, not slow enough to be sleepy, but not fast enough to be rushing the listener. The solos are just complex enough to be beautiful and interesting, and just simple enough to be relaxing. The pauses in between and excellent transitions between the different passages are wonderfully executed. You can feel how the set of these musicians were perfectly in sync with one another, in the emotional sense, so they create an atmosphere without and ruptures, without imperfections. They keep the idea simple, and elaborate in interesting ways.

I keep Kind of Blue on my shelf all the time, and play it frequently. I'm sure I don't have another album quite like it. Whether I want to cheer up or stay melancholic and depressed, I can play Kind of Blue. Whether I want to chill out or snap out of a spell of boredom, I can play Kind of Blue. It's so mutipurpose and adaptive, so wonderfully naive and unassuming. The Flamenco Sketches in particular are truly calming, and for the duration of the tracks, you can shut out all your worries, everything in your life that annoys you.

Definitely get this album if you've not listened to it. Some magazine editor said at one point: "It may be a stretch to say that if you don't like Kind of Blue, you don't like jazz -- but it's hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection". It changed my mind about jazz, and showed me that it doesn't have to be random improvisation. When so many people worldwide praise an album, they can't be totally wrong. Whatever kind of music you usually listen to, Kind of Blue is a great addition to your library.

This album speaks for itself. It simply makes for great listening, it sucks you right in, but doesn't impose its own rules. You're free to feel however you like, and Kind of Blue won't mind. My final word is, no cooler chillout album exists on the planet, so get it and see for yourself.

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