Miles Davis: All Blues

Miles Davis recorded many classic performances during his long career, but this ranks among the most beloved and best known of his works. Bill Evans sets the tone with a 6/8 vamp which provides both a hook for the listener and a spur for the soloists. I could tell you that Miles never had a better band . . . but, honestly, the real issue here is whether anyone ever brought a finer combo into a studio. And unlike most all-star dates, Kind of Blue contains no grandstanding or attempts at one-upmanship. Miles, Trane, Cannonball and the rhythm section all assert their individual personalities, but in a way that stays true to the mood of the music. This is not just a song, but a musical vision, perfectly realized and set down for the ages.

December 22, 2007 · 1 comment


Miles Davis: So What

Miles Davis, artwork by Michael Symonds

Miles Davis's 1959 sextet is widely considered the greatest musical group in the history of the universe. Yet neither the scariest lineup since the 1927 Yankees' Murderers Row nor the novelty of modal jazz can explain the enduring mystery of "So What." Derived from Morton Gould’s American Symphonette No. 2 (1938) via Ahmad Jamal’s “Pavanne” (1955), "So What" wasn't this band's first foray into modality; they'd recorded "Milestones" a year before, making "So What" a sequel, and we all know what turkeys those usually are. "So What," though, has attitude. This is the coolest hipster's shrug of all time. So what.

November 02, 2007 · 2 comments


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