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Kind of Blue - Miles Davis

Updated on August 11, 2014

One of the greatest jazz recordings of all time

I was in my early twenties when somebody first played me the iconic jazz recording 'Kind of Blue' by Miles Davis. Unfortunately, I simply wasn't ready for it. In fact, I'm not sure if I even made it though to the end of the album! Maybe there's a right time for jazz? Whatever the reason, when I re-approached 'Kind of Blue' again in my early thirties I fell in love with it instantly and have since become quietly addicted to this extraordinary album over the years.

On a personal level 'Kind of Blue' was an important stepping stone in helping me to broaden my own musical horizons and introduced me to other wonderful recordings both by trumpeter Miles Davis and his fellow musicians on this album, such as tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and pianist Bill Evans. I hope you enjoy this lens which is a small taster of a musical masterpiece.

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary

The 50th Anniversary of Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue' was a very historic event. Legacy Recordings released a Collector's Edition Box set on September 30, 2008 to celebrate this very important release. Take a look at this video and see why this is such an important release... if you don't already know!

Buy the 'Kind of Blue' Legacy Edition

Kind Of Blue
Kind Of Blue

Originally released in 1959, Miles Davis's magnum opus 'Kind of Blue' is still considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of all time. Starring Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb, 'Kind of Blue' has held onto its status as an album that crosses genres, speaks to generations, and is one of the first (if not the first) album that any new jazz acolyte purchases. 'Kind of Blue' (Legacy Edition) offers the complete studio sessions on 2 CDs, including false starts, alternate takes and a 17-minute 1960 live version of "So What."


'So What' - John Coltrane and Miles Davis performing LIVE! - On April 2, 1959, producer Robert Herridge recorded the Miles Davis Quintet playing the classic "So

"So What" is the first track on the 1959 Miles Davis and John Coltrane album Kind of Blue and is often credited as one of his best works.

It is one of the most well-known examples of modal jazz, set in the Dorian mode and consisting of 16 bars of D minor7, followed by eight bars of Eb minor7 and another eight of D minor7. This AABA structure puts it in the format of popular song structure.

The piano and bass introduction for the piece was written by Gil Evans for Bill Evans and Paul Chambers on Kind of Blue. An orchestrated version by Gil Evans of this introduction is later to be found on a television broadcast given by Miles' Quintet (minus Cannonball Adderley who was ill that day) and the Gil Evans Orchestra; the orchestra gave the introduction after which the quintet produced a rendition of the rest of "So What".

The distinctive voicing employed by Bill Evans for the chords that interject the head, from the bottom up three perfect fourths followed by a major third, has been given the name "So What chord" by such theorists as Mark Levine.

While the track is taken at a very moderate tempo on Kind Of Blue, it is played at an extremely fast tempo on later live recordings by the Quintet, such as Four and More.

The same chord structure was later used by John Coltrane for his standard "Impressions".


1959 - The Year That Changed Jazz

The first extract from another great BBC music documentary. This one is called "1959 The Year That Changed Jazz" It concentrates on four great albums: Kind Of Blue, Ahum! Take Five and The Shape Of Jazzz To Come.

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue - Deluxe Edition (Artist Transcriptions)

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue: Deluxe Edition
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue: Deluxe Edition

The new hardcover deluxe edition of this exceptional book features transcriptions of all the improvised solos as well as sketch scores for all the songs from this landmark release; this includes Miles' trumpet parts, the brilliant sax work of John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly, a full transcription of Wynton Kelly's piano solo on "Freddie Freeloader," and Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb's rhythm section parts to use as guides for the feel of each composition. Songs include: So What, Freddie Freeloader, Blue in Green, All Blues and Flamenco Sketches, including an alternate take. Also includes fabulous photos and an essay written specifically for this edition by composer Bill Kirchner, who won a Grammy for his notes on Sony's Miles Davis/Gil Evans boxed set, and edited The Miles Davis Reader for Smithsonian Institution Press.

"For musicians in the know, this book can only enhance one's ardor for the album Quincy Jones calls his 'orange juice' and Donald Fagen hails as 'The Bible.'"

-Ashley Kahn, author of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece

"Put on the recording, take out the score, and you'll learn a lot and hear things you hadn't noticed before."

-Lewis Porter, Director of the MA in Jazz History & Research, Rutgers University at Newark


Is 'Kind of Blue ' the greatest jazz record of all time?

Recording 'Kind of Blue'
Recording 'Kind of Blue'

In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

What do YOU think about 'Kind of Blue'?

See results

50 Years of Kind of Blue: A Live Jazz Laboratory Part 1 - Stanford University Video Lectures

Loren Schoenberg, director, National Jazz museum in Harlem, discusses the experience of performing jazz, the magic of Miles Davis, and the importance and immediacy of attending live music because each performance is unique.

50 Years of Kind of Blue: A Live Jazz Laboratory Part 2 (Looking at modal jazz) - Stanford University Video Lectures

Loren Schoenberg, director, National Jazz museum in Harlem, gives a mini tutorial on modal jazz and the way that Miles Davis changed jazz forever by improvising within a single scale, as in the album Kind of Blue, rather than jumping from chord to chord.

Want to listen to MORE Miles Davis? - Search through his back catalog below

Did you enjoy this lens? Please leave a comment before you go! - Jazz fan or not, I'd love to hear from you!

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    • hntrssthmpsn profile image


      5 years ago

      Kind of Blue is one of my favorite albums. Some of Miles' other stuff is a little too... complex? disjointed?... for my tastes, but he was an amazing musician, and the flow of this album, seamless from beginning to end, is so perfect.

    • Doctone profile image


      7 years ago

      Very in-depth lens - great. I just included Kind Fo Blue in my lens of 5 jazz albums that everyone should own

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This was the first jazz album that made me go "whoa." Good lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am a Jazz fan, great insight to this Jazz Musician. We learn alot from Mile Davis...:-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good content on Miles. I ran across this piece of art of Miles on the web

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I'm not too familiar with Miles Davis but I do like all kinds of music. Great lens!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      8 years ago from USA

      Very nice tribute! I enjoyed my stay here. :)

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      8 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      Really nicely put together. I'm not a huge jazz fan but I don't mind a little Miles davis

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Nice tribute to Mies Davis.


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