Top 5 is a reoccurring series brought to you by Those Who Dig that concerns itself with reflecting upon the records whose musical content have made indelible impressions on our personal lives.
On August 17, 1959 Columbia Records released an opus from Miles Davis entitled:
Kind Of Blue.
It has since gone quadruple platinum and been inducted into the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress.
The remarkable cast of featured musicians are:
Miles Davis – trumpet
Bill Evans & Wynton Kelly – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Jimmy Cobb – drums
John Coltrane & Julian "Cannonball" Adderley – saxophones
The original track listing for the record is as follows:
Blue in Green
This record is notable for innumerable reasons, however, the most significant in terms of jazz history is that Kind of Blue represented the solidification of Modal Jazz. In contrast to Bebop, Modal jazz does not focus on the chord progressions as the guiding light for improvisation. Instead, the harmonic progressions within these compositions is slowed down and the soloists are asked to explore sound and space through scaler motion.
In general, Miles Davis is known for his superb note choice rather than his scale velocity or tessitura. Therefore, Modal Jazz offered Miles the perfect conditions for him to excel. In addition, this style of composition and improvisation offered what Davis called, "…a return to melody" since the musicians were no longer forced to adhere to the chord changes.
In the selected cut from this record,
Blue in Green
you hear this philosophy evidenced in the first phrase from Mile's trumpet. He allows the sound to blossom from his horn as he explores melody and space in this inherently melancholic solo. Another worthwhile anecdote in this recording is that during the piano solo Bill Evans cleverly hints at the tune from my favorite ballad,Someday My Price Will Come.
The contents of this record are laden with pathos. I personally have lived with it for at least 10 years and still find myself moved by its substance. If you don't know, learn. If you haven't heard, listen.