Sound: Kind of Blue (released in 1959) is a studio album by the legendary Miles Davis, one of the most famous trumpet players in jazz history. This album is considered by many jazz fanatics to be one of the most influential and best jazz albums of all time, and is arguably the highest selling jazz record ever released.
If you love jazz, or are even remotely interested in it, it is likely that the name of this album has come up. The album is accessible to almost every jazz fan; it is great to just sit back and listen to in the background, but for a hardcore jazz fan it's also complex and interesting enough to pick apart all the cool things that are going on that may not be noticeable to the average listener. The album focuses largely on the usage of modes, and for the most part the songs are fairly slow and the solos focus more on melody and space rather than rapid key changes and crazy 16th note runs going non-stop.
Like almost all jazz groups and musicians, improvisation is key to the album's sound. The solos taken are all amazing, taking full advantage of the songs structure to make the tension and resolution sound either beautiful or just awesome. Obviously Miles Davis' solos stand out and are gorgeous, his unique trumpet sound and style of playing is always amazing. He has always had the ability to fit as much skill and passion into two notes as another needs hundreds of notes for. Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly (on Freddie Freeloader) have fantastic piano solos as well, as do the sax players John Coltrane and Julian Adderley. Other than the solos, the changes made in the rhythm section or even slight changes in the melody all play their part in making the song more interesting and fun to listen to.
Obviously, when musicians focus a lot on improvisation, a very tight band is required. Especially in jazz with all the awkward key changes and movement, it is important that every band member listens to one another and reacts, and that is exactly what this sextet does. Every member pays attention to and follows the other members of the band and allows the songs take whatever direction they will while still sounding together and great. Double bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb always keep fantastic time and keep the band together, while adding interesting rhythms and sounds to the pieces.
This album is a flawless album with nearly no mistakes or issues with it. The playing is superb, and always interesting and different. It is easy to see why this album was such an amazing success with amazing melodies, improvisation, and rhythm section. However, it would have been nice to hear one or two faster paced songs for contrast and to shake things up. It could also be a bit longer, but with the five songs reaching about 45 minutes, it's not too big of a problem. Davis' sextet consisting of six of the best jazz musicians at the time in no way lets down, and is a great experience for all jazz fans. // 9
Lyrics: There are no vocals or lyrics to these songs, as the entire album is completely instrumental. I'll give this section a 9 just to somewhat average out the other two sections. I'm just going to continue writing a bit more here until I'm allowed to submit the review.. // 9
Overall Impression: In my opinion, this is probably my favourite Miles Davis album (although almost all of them are great). His usage of modes and space in the composition and solos of the pieces are nothing less than spectacular, and all of the musicians play a key role in giving the album the great jazzy sound it has. Although every single song on the album is a great listen, my favourite three are probably "So What", the ballad "Kind of Blue", and finally "Flamenco Sketches" (the trumpet work is just perfect). That being said, "Freddy Freeloader" and "All Blues" are also two of my other favourite jazz songs. Really, no song on this album is a let down. This album will last more than one listen, and you'll probably find yourself coming back to it often. So, if you're just getting into jazz, are simply a casual listener, or having been playing/listening to it for years, this album will be a great purchase, and will probably revolutionize your life. // 10