A Masterpiece That Jolted Jazz With the Daring To Ignore Rules"Kind of Blue," an album by Miles Davis, is considered a monumental recording in the history of jazz. Davis was a trumpeter characterized by his endless pursuit of creativity and new approaches. In 1959, Davis teamed up with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Together, these musicians created "Kind of Blue," and shook the jazz world.
The album, featuring five tracks － "So What," "Freddie Freeloader," "Blue in Green," "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" － shines with brilliant playing by all the musicians.
It is a well-known fact among jazz lovers that Davis only revealed his outlines for melodies and simple scales for improvisation to the other musicians after they had arrived at the old Columbia 30th Street Studio in New York to make the recording. He kept the melodies secret until that late stage to allow the musicians to give a full, unrehearsed and instinctive sound to their improvisations on the theme. This system placed emphasis on blues and the improviser's gifts and "Kind of Blue" embodied a major stylistic development in the history of jazz.
Although other musicians were also experimenting with jazz at the time, Miles Davis' meiotic style led him to making stimulating rhythm based on a simple scalar pattern. This was a reaction to the growing chordal complexity of hard bop, which was gaining popularity at the time.
Davis' approach came to be known as "modal jazz;" it deviated from conventions in chordal complexity by emphasizing melodic variations through solo and group improvisation in pure melody. "Kind of Blue" was the prototype of modal jazz. In the album, all the pieces were based on melody except "Blue in Green," which relied on harmonic variations on the piano.
Listen to the recording and you will find it hard to believe that the music was improvised. Marvelous strains of the trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone and piano appear one by one and lead listeners into an impromptu world of captivating timing and refinement.
"Kind of Blue" proves that jazz is not something that can be played by reading and reproducing scores, but music that relies largely on the instinct of the musician. This is the essence of jazz.
by Lee Jang-jik