Keep aside the fact that Miles Dewey Davis III is a 8 time Grammy winner, the music that he created resonates to-date and appeals to anyone beyond age and race. And ‘Kind of Blue’ is his pinnacle creation.
‘Kind of Blue’ album was created on March 2, 1959, and in 2019 we celebrate 60 years of its existence and enrichment of music. If this album is put into context of Miles Davis’ life, it is one album out of 51 studio albums, 36 live albums, 35 compilation albums, 17 box sets, 4 soundtrack albums, 57 singles and 3 remix albums. However, ‘Kind of Blue’ marks Davis’ most successful album selling over 4 million copies by 2008. The album was also ranked at #1 on BBC’s ’50 Greatest Jazz Albums’ poll in 2016 and #12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time.’
What Inspired Miles Davis to Record ‘Kind of Blue’ Album?
According to Independent magazine, Miles Davis drew inspiration from the album deep rooted in his childhood. He was walking home on a dark road when he was 6-years-old and his head started filling in with gospel music. Miles explained; “That kind of feeling came back to me and I still remember what that music sounded like and felt like. That feeling got in my creative blood, my imagination. That feeling is what I’m trying to get close to in Kind of Blue.”
How Did the Album Title ‘Kind of Blue’ Came to be?
The album title was picked by Miles Davis himself and has been drawn out of a violent personal experience.
One night, as Miles was walking a “pretty white girl” to a cab from his recording studio in New York, he was encountered by a policeman and a detective. They asked him to “move on” to which Miles responded “Move on, for what? I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis.” This dialogue
Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’ Tracklist
- So What
- Freddie Freeloader
- Blue in Green
- All Blues
- Flamenco Sketeches
In a re-issue in 1997, Side-B contains a bonus track, an alternate version of “Flamenco Sketeches.”
Recording of ‘Kind of Blue’ Album
There are many stories surrounding the recording of this album which makes it ever so historic. The album was recorded on two days. The first three tracks on side-A were recorded on March 2, 1959 and side-B recorded on April 22 same year. The drummer Jimmy Cobb assures that most of these 5 tracks were recorded in one take, as Davis did not like doing one thing over and over again.
The ensemble for ‘Kind of Blue’ included Miles Davis alongside with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on alto saxophone, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.
Davis was a “perfectionist.” Cobbs explains how Davis would halt a rehearsal if he did not like the performance of a single member. He would blow a whistle and halt the entire performance. Davis was also worried about the “squeaky” noises the floor made of the recording studio which was a converted Greek Orthodox Church. They chose the location for the resonance the church produced due to its high ceilings.
Miles Davis was also a massive fan of the creative flow and improvisations. He jotted down the composition for the first three tracks in the morning of the day of the recording. “The songs were just something Miles had on a slip of manuscript paper. The guys had to really work to build something from that little bit,” says Cobb in an interview in 2009.
‘Kind of Blue’ album still sells around the world. However, it did not do well when it was first released. The album caught up with music critics identifying the genius hidden within the soulful notes.
Quincy Jones, the infamous music producer with 28 Grammys, called the album “my daily orange juice.” Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen described it as “the Bible” of music. Pink Floyd pianist Richard Wright said the album influenced the whole structure of their most famous album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon.’
What are your thoughts on Miles Davis’ genius on ‘Kind of Blue’ album? Drop a comment below.