Miles Davis ‘“ Kind of Blue
Analysis: “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davies
Undoubtedly, Miles Davies is one of the greatest Jazz musicians of all times, and his influence has been broad, not only in jazz music but also in rock and classically related genres. One of the greatest traits of the musician was his need for innovation, always pushing the boundaries of the genre and aiming for new standards and ways to interpret new music. For that reason, despite his lack of qualities when compared to other musicians of his generation does not put him at a disadvantage, since he had creative vision to step away from the old conventions of the Bebop and create new pieces of a completely unheard beauty. The ensemble itself is a dream for any composer or director as it was composed of jazz musicians of incredible talent such as Miles Davies in the trumpet, Bill Evans on the piano, Paul Chambers on the bass, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley in the saxophones and Jimmy Cobb in the drums. With such a promising ensemble, Davies’ experimentation paid off, and Kind of Blue has been praised as one of the greatest albums in the history of Jazz.
The first song on the album “So What” is an excellent example of modal jazz, and when compared to the music of that time, it strikes us as something completely new. The first noticeable thing over Davis’ trumpet is Evans’ piano. Its notes do not compete with the trumpet’s soloist intentions but add a floating almost pensive feeling to the strong trumpet interpretation that serves as the song’s melody. For instance, the way some notes of the piano are played, giving the tune a floating sense of openness and innovation. Instead of playing a lot of crowded notes and chords. Evans’ interpretation is much more melodic and similar to Davies, which speaks of the way both musicians understood each other and were able to fuse their skills, creating a pensive piece with a quiet fire burning inside of it, exploding at times with Davies trumpet.
The next song, “Freddie Freeloader,” has a much bluesier sound given the fact that it is based on a twelve-bar blues in B flat, featuring an invited musician in the piano, Wynton Kelly. At the first hear, Kelly’s interpretation much more traditional, with a style that resembled Duke Ellington’s compositions and seems closer to jazz standards than the first song on the album. Without a doubt, the bluesy sound seems different than the rest of the tunes on the album. Nevertheless, regardless it’s different feeling, it feels like an homage to the tradition and a wink to show how different Davies compositions were from the standards of jazz.
Third in line, “Blue in Green” is a sharp contrast between the previous two songs. The ballad reverts us to the pensive and thoughtful status we were when hearing “So What.” Nevertheless, “Blue in Green” can be perceived as much more melancholic given Davies’ thorough incursion in modal jazz. This song fully showcases Evans’ impressionist influences as he uses multiple progressions to create textures without feeling too locked in the same chords by cleverly using different modes and interpretative forms that bring Debussy’s compositions to mind.
The fourth song, “All Blues” contrasts heavily with the previous, but it can be seen as a progression from the latter, an escalation of “Blue in Green.” However, the melancholy from the ballad is immediately dispelled as the song feature a series of saxophone vamps that serve as flag bearers of the song. Announcing that something is yet to come, and when it does, adds energy to the tune, escalating from a laid back interpretation to a bluesy melody where saxophones lay the foundations of the melody. And the drums keep a classic shuffle pattern in the hi-hat, allowing a dialogue between Evans’ piano and Davies trumpet that is often intersected by Cobbs’ well-placed rolls.
“Flamenco Sketches,” the last song on the album is in turn, the most experimental, featuring chord changes and improvisation around the modes. These scales seem to be played ad lib until the soloist instruments, in this case, the trumpet and the piano, do their appearance. In “Flamenco Sketches”, Evans’ performance remembers the song “In a sentimental mood, by Duke Ellington, as the performance has a ragtime feeling all along. Hence, the song can be seen as an overall improvisation where the musician played vamps based on modal progressions. With that in mind, “Flamenco Sketches” gives us the idea of an endless improvisation that ends such an energetic album on a smooth note.
This ability to arrange the songs in a way where after an upbeat song, a laidback theme succeeds, speaks about Davies’ capacities not only as an arranger but also in the whole architecture of the songs and the way they are placed in the album. Ultimately, “Kind of Blue” represents a high moment in jazz music given the fact that its experimental attitude opened the door for different interpretations of musicians who considered Bebop as a burden and wanted to innovate.