Do you notice a similarity in these quotes?
Even to some of the most technically impressive musicians to exist, the feeling of the music is more important than the technique. Kind of Blue nails the feeling. An incredibly intimate and personal record that embodies the characteristics most associated with jazz: intricate and detailed, cool and smokey, dark and mysterious. The immersive atmosphere that Kind of Blue drops the listener into is one of inescapable quality - it permeates all of jazz. You won't ever hear another record that sounds quite like this, even though many talented musicians have tried.
"So What" begins playing.
Immediately off to a beautiful start due to Evans' elegant piano, then off to Chambers to provide you one of the catchiest and most memorable basslines in all of music complimented by that same piano, Cobb's drums begin rising. The amount of tension created in the first minute and a half is incredible. No special effects used - pure and raw. Right as you reach the climax...
Cobb slams the greatest crash cymbal in the history of jazz, a perfectly timed jump into the highway that is the rest of "So What".
I heard that Cobb thought he overdid it - the crash was too loud, lasted too long, and was too abrasive. Hell no. This crash cymbal is the doorway into the song, you ride it right onto Davis' solo, and without that length the transition would feel too abrupt.
Davis provides his gorgeous, precise, straight playing. In my opinion this is one of the catchiest solos of all time, so many beautiful melodies to pick up on.
Coltrane leaps forward, his signature style immediately apparent: quick, pinpoint, and stylish. Being able to hear the contrast between Davis and Coltrane is one of the greatest relationships one could examine in music, and it makes me wish that they would have made more music together (though they did do a fair amount).
The transition to Adderley is so subtle some may not even notice it at first. He provides one of the best solos of his career and continues the chill path that has been set up.
Cobb never lets down, providing the heart beat of this incredible track, refraining from rest. To the very end this song gives you many moving pieces to appreciate while still alluringly relaxed.
Not to mention how unbelievable the recording quality is. "Kind of Blue" doesn't just hold up to modern standards, it surpasses them, and it does so easily. If you aren't listening to this record on some nice ass headphones you are missing out.
I could say just as much, if not more, about every other track on here. Each song is important in their own right and necessary for the album to feel complete. However, I don't want to make a track-by-track review here. To mention this quickly, the line-up for this record is unbelievable. We have seven of the most talented musicians to ever exist on a single project - that is damn spectacular. Rest in peace to them all. Of course, even if put on the spot, these geniuses will provide.
The importance of the improvisation on Kind of Blue should never be understated. With their technique, we are able to hear a "direct flow of consciousness" through their instrument. Ideas and feelings lost in the subconsciousness can also arise. John Fahey once said something along the lines of, "Without improvisation music isn't music. It can't progress. It is just a rehash of something someone else wrote."
The present-day reaction of this record has been interesting to witness. Due to how acclaimed and influential Kind of Blue has been, it finds itself in an odd place. Often recommended as an introductory jazz album, new listeners are unable to understand why the record is the way it is. Though not always the case, this situation represents a major issue within the online music reviewing community. It is easy to start at the most loved releases of all time without any fundamental knowledge that admirers should have. This is most commonly seen with older music.
Some of the fundamentals of music have completely shifted over time, and this can be a jarring experience for someone who is unaccustomed to this type of composition.
I remember the first time I voluntarily heard a jazz record. It was The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus. I loved it, but it wasn't enough to convince me to check out the rest of what jazz had to offer. Eventually I heard A Love Supreme and I got a bit more interested. Then I heard Kind of Blue and got less interested, as I originally found this record somewhat boring.
You see, getting into jazz will work differently for everyone. Not everyone can appreciate it, either. Records like "Bitches Brew" and "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" may be better starting points for some, as they share many more qualities with modern music.
Even with all of the issues which may arise from giving this to someone as their first jazz album, I would still recommend it. That is because, if you allow it, the album will grow with you over time and you will become more appreciative as you learn more about jazz and music. Erin Davis once said that “you could start there (Kind of Blue) as a beginner or you could end there as someone with experience." I couldn't agree more. At this point in time I have heard well over 700 jazz albums. I would like that number to be much higher, and I'm working on it, but one thing that has always grown is my love for this record.
For the past few months jazz is almost all I have listened to. No other genre has ever gripped me this tightly - it is incredible. It has so much to offer: so many legendary and influential records, unbelievably talented musicians, and entertaining videos, books, articles etc. It is a luscious and dense scene. I'm heading off to college soon, but I might try to write some more reviews. Hope you got something out of this one. <3
If you want a laugh, check out some of the negative reviews for this record on RYM. Oh boy.
"Kind of Blue" Kind of Blew me away.
"Kind of Blue" is Kind of a Big Deal.
Kind of Woo!
Y’know, I tried playing some Miles Davis a bit ago on piano. I Kind of Blew it.
Aw… now that I’m done writing this review I feel… Kind of Blue.