Kind of Blue
Some say all jazz is tangential, or just tangled, but here’s the thing, Radio was full of erbium, criticism, despair and depression, and that’s just the local station. Flicked to BBC World Service, one of them things that really does put the “Great” in Great Britain, and there it was, “Sea Weed Farming in Zanibar”, I kid you not.
“What the Fuck”, anyway a few moments later “today is... International Seaweed day...” mouth hits the floor, Google checked, it WAS real, but that was mid-May, but, BUT , BUT - - today 17th August, in 1959, music changed forever. This was AFTER Elvis “shook rattled and rolled”, and BEFORE the Beatles “loved you do”, the colossus of jazz, Miles Davis released the majestically definitive, Kinda Blue, a record no real music lover can be without.
Why is it so good, from it’s opening slightly anxious, slightly apprehensive, yet stepping with a wry confident bounce of “So What” a piece full of hope, full of optimism, and light that brightens a dull Tuesday in Toon, through the late night, crackling fire light for lovers, the sun rise on a stretching summer city dawn to Flamenco Sketches, the album glides with style, poise and sheer joie de vivre. The playing is Miles in the wee small hours, stretching before bed, or an early morning stroll to a 112th and Lexington’s diner, for eggs over easy. Hash browns, ham, n’ coffees, and couple of cancers,
The music glides, swirls, with Miles’s trumpet floating, albatross on the wing, a hummingbird at Nectar, a Condor high in the sky, monarch of all it surveys. The slow gentle tenderness of Bill Evans on Keys counterpoised with the happy hand in hand lovers of Coltrane and Adderley. Recorded in two days in New York, an album for nearly every mood and it matched and lifted mine, transportation to another time, another place. The repetitive thymes, bass Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb drums a perfect accompaniment to Miles, keeping the music moving leaving spaces to think, imagine, and savour the music’s sweet delights.
Fast or slow this is Miles’s show, sure the whole team’s in view, Miles, the star rose, colour, aroma, and centre stage, but all great flowers realise they need soil, the sun, and water to bloom, the band provide in this in spades. This may be a Miles Album, but it’s a super group at the very pinnacle of it’s game.
Freedie Freeloader swings with a finger poppin’ delight, Keys swing and bounce, piano showcased (on the one track where Wynton Kelly stepped in for Evans), the drums rapppa tap tap delicious elegant understatement, Miles rolls in, a train waiting, inviting you, hop on board, and share the journey. Blue is Green, romance, cigarettes in street lights, - - nope no more track stuff just give your ears and soul a loving tender cuddle with this music.
Kinda a Blue? Yeah there’s a sadness there, but no slide into the loss and hopelessness permeating many blues songs, this a wistful melancholy. This IS Kinda blue, and Kinda not, more kinda getting over “it”, starting to see; enjoy the sun, smell spring flowers, and love life, and face it’s problems with a springing skipping step, exuding hope, recovery and the certainty of better years to come.
This is Cool jazz at it’s warmest and most tender, full of love, the piano soars providing a high delicate delight, the sax Coltrane provides, is a warm counterpoint to Miles, but it’s Miles’ trumpet, knife through butter, and spread on hot toast playing that keeps the music alive, the ear attuned, and the heart at rest.
Back in toon, Miles’s playing ended, the tone arm returned to rest, aptly the sun peeks out, if only for a fleeting moment.
Back to Radio Newcastle, announcer “ . . . . . . . And now it’s, Jonny hates Jazz “, well obviously Jonny’s never heard Kinda Blue, he needs to get this on the turntable, CD player, download to a laptop before he plays another tune.
Main Image: Miles Davis in New York by Tom Palumbo (cc license)
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