Colin Steele - Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
It was one of the most historic recording sessions in jazz. On 2 March 1959, Miles Davis took a group of musicians that included John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, both Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb into Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York, and laid down the first three tracks of what became Kind of Blue.
Miles had been influenced by George Russell’s ideas on modal music as far back as the 40s, but this consummate masterpiece, once of the most influential jazz albums ever made, represents his triumph over the form begun in Milestones the year before. The open, scale-based progressions were in stark contrast to the frantic chord-based bop style of the period (to hear the difference, compare this with Coltrane’s chord-dense Giant Steps from the same year).
As Ashley Khan noted in his book on the sessions, ‘in the church of jazz, Kind of Blue is one of the holy relics’. The rest of the album was recorded in April, and it went on to become a sales phenomenon, at least in jazz terms. It has probably turned more people onto jazz than any other record, and tunes like ‘All Blues’ and ‘So What’ are widely familiar artifacts of 20th century music.
Trumpeter Colin Steele is well known as an avid Miles devotee, and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that first session by playing the famous music from the album with a sextet assembled for the occasion.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 2 Mar