Kind of Blue - Episode 1The genesis of the concept for the album comes from Miles, but there were many important contributors (directly and indirectly) to the album including Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Ahmad Jamal, and George Russell. Bill Evans was probably the musician most important to soft pastel character of the recording. Many musicians in the 1950’s were interested in a modal approach to jazz improvisation; bebop, cool and hard bop were largely constructed from traditional harmony. Miles recording of composition of Milestones in 1958 was his first attempt to break away from compositions using traditional harmony.
|So What||Miles Davis||Kind of Blues||1959|
Kind of Blue - Episode 2As I mentioned in the previous podcast all of the compositions on the Kind of Blue are unusual in that their architecture in unconventional, except for “Freddie Freeloader.” “Freddie” is the most conventional composition on the record--a 12-bar blues with a little unexpected twist in the last measure. “Flamenco Sketches” is the most interesting composition on the album; it consists 5 different tonal centers. It is interesting to hear how each musician utilizes the notes from the different scales.
|Freddie Freeloader||Miles Davis||Kind of Blue||1959|
|Peace Piece||Bill Evans||Everybody Digs Bill Evans||1958|
|Flamenco Sketches||Miles Davis||Kind of Blues||1959|
Kind of Blue - Episode 3Bill Evans’ contribution to the album, “Blue in Green,” is a short composition with manner twists and turns, but unlike the other pieces on the record is not modal. It does have that floating pastel-like character that reflects the ideal of the album. Miles’ harmon-muted trumpet is the perfect vehicle for interpreting this dreamy ballad.
|Blue in Green||Miles Davis||Kind of Blue||1959|
|Alone Together||Bill Evans/Chet Baker||Lyrical Trumpet of CB||1958|
Kind of Blue - Episode 4“All Blues” and “Freddie Freeloader” bear the stamp of modality in that there are no bebop chord substitutions or any other characteristics that came to define 1950s jazz harmony. Their improvisational sound is not solely based on dominant chords as was common during that era, but by the sound of dorian scales. It is interesting to compare the improvisations of all the soloists to see how they each addressed these musical issues and challenges placed before them by Miles Davis. “All Blues” was originally conceived in 4/4 time, it was later changes to ¾ or 6/8 for the recording for that famous floating feeling. The last part of the blues utilizes altered dominant chords that give it a distinctive dissonance and then resolves in the last measure. I also play two live versions of “So What” from 1960 to see how a later interpretation differs from the original.
|All Blues||Miles Davis||Kind of Blue||1959|
|So What||Miles Davis||Live in Stockholm||1960|
|So What||Miles Davis||Live at Olympia Theatre||1960|
|Cold Sweat Pt. 1||James Brown||1967|