on 21 March 2006
Just browsing through the Miles Davis products the other day, I was amazed to see that the average rating for "Kind of Blue" was only 4.5 stars. Intrigued as to what kind of person does not regard this album as truly exceptional, I scanned the reviews. Those that did not give the album five stars fell broadly into two categories. The first consisted of people who had no jazz records and, having read the reviews, thought this classic would be a good one to start a collection with only to discover that,oops,they don't like jazz.
The second group appeared to be afficianados with a slightly sniffy attitude who view the album as jazz for people who don't really like jazz. There is some truth in that as it is by far the most accesible Miles album to non jazz fans and was my starting point in an apppreciation of jazz and of Miles in particular.
The point of this review is to ask, beseech and implore the reader who does not own this album to ignore these reviews and BUY Kind of Blue immediately. Your life will not be same again.
This package is a real bargain: three complete classic jazz albums for the price of one.
This is what you get:
KoB stripped down to its five original-release basic tracks
1. Miles' classic December 1957 Paris recording session of the soundtrack for Louis Malle's 1958 film noir `Ascenseur pour l'echafaud' again stripped down to the original 10 pieces with their French titles (if you buy the stand-alone CD from Fontana you get 26 tracks, but 16 of them are just alternative takes on the basic 10)
2. Cannonball Adderley's classic album `Somethin' Else', contemporary with KoB and very much in the same groove, with Miles unusually playing sideman to Cannonball's outstanding sax up-front
So, THREE ultra-cool and essential jazz CDs for a bargain price, with every track a gem. The sound quality is excellent throughout: rich and deep with good tonal separation across the range reminiscent of the original vinyl release.
The only issue is that the title `Kind of Blue' is slightly misleading: not only is no reference made to the other two works, but the cover-art features the classic close-up pic of Miles playing his horn from the KoB album cover. There's more here than meets the eye, but you'd never guess unless you look closely.
All in all, this is a great starter package to anyone discovering the jazz classics of this important period for the first time, and a genuine bargain.
on 14 December 2001
Referring to "Kind of Blue" as the best jazz album of all time might actually be doing it a disservice. Jazz is one of those complex artforms which many people shy away from, afraid that they will not be able to understand it. So extoling its virtues might frighten people even more. But "Kind of Blue" is simply beautiful music. When listening to it, you forget everything you might feel about jazz, whether good or bad, and can only listen to it, amazed and excited. Miles Davis has created something so powerful yet full of simple, memorable melodies. Every note takes you further into that state where you simply hush up, tell whoever you are with to shut up, and listen. It is certainly not the type of music I would put on when friends come over for a chat. But it is an album which I can listen to, over and over and over again. Definitely something for MUSIC fans.
'Kind of Blue' is often cited as the greatest jazz album of all time and SONY have now released this sumptuous box set to mark its 50th anniversary. Apart from the original album which appears here re-mastered on CD and 180-gram vinyl, there are alternative takes, all the studio tracks from the 'Jazz Track' LP of 1958 and a 17-minute live performance of 'So What' recorded in Holland in 1960. The DVD features 'Celebrating a Masterpiece:Kind of Blue:Documentary' plus a 1959 TV broadcast 'The Sound of Miles Davis' and a photo gallery. There's also a 60-page hardback book of essays on the music.
This sextet of Miles Davis(trumpet), John Coltrane(tenor), Cannonball Adderley(alto), Bill Evans or Wynton Kelly(piano), Paul Chambers(bass) & Jimmy Cobb(drums) came together in 1959 to create a haunting, timeless masterpiece which Herbie Hancock described as 'a cornerstone, not just for jazz but for music'.
I first heard 'Kind of Blue' in the early 1960s and never tire of playing it. Although expensive, many fans of Miles Davis' music will want to acquire this lavishly produced box set which is bound to become a collectors' item.
on 10 September 2010
What only 3 stars I hear you scream - well yes. This is one of the best jazz albums of all time so as far as performance is concerned we all know it is superb, 5 Stars. But the remastering is frankly very poor for such a classic standard. I would question if this was mastered from the master tapes and the engineer should be ashamed - did you actually sit down and listen to your final mix in a proper 5.1 system?. There is a complete lack of double bass. Where is the LFE (.1) channel content??? This album has a beautiful double bass most of which comes out the centre speaker but apart from hearing the notes there is very little depth or feel to the bass. The piano is poor also. The actual CD layer sounds better.
I also have the JSACD (Japanese SACD) version on Sony of this album and it is a much better. I would not purchase this Columbia SACD version - get the Sony version it is far superior.
Please don't judge this review with the "this is 'Kind of Blue' so always deserves 5 stars" mentality. I am purely reviewing the quality of the mastering.
on 4 March 2003
Kind of Blue is a famous and influential album, the number 1 jazz best seller and - some would say - the best jazz album ever. This particular CD edition is the one to have because it has as a bonus an alternate take of "Flamenco Sketches" and more importantly, as the liner note points out, the 20-bit re-mastering gives the music a greater depth and richness of tone and it now plays at the correct pitch (all previous versions on LP, tape or CD have played at the wrong pitch, as musicians who tried to play along with it have discovered).
The album is famous partly for the way in which it combined modal harmonies with more traditional structures, giving the improvising soloist a greater range and freedom in his solos. This in itself marked a new phase in Miles's continually developing music, although the implications of the music were probably exploited most fully by John Coltrane in his subsequent work after leaving Miles's group. Well as he plays here, I've always felt that Coltrane's style and approach often fitted a bit uncomfortably within Miles's groups, especially at faster tempos. His rhythmic approach seemed never wholly compatible with that of his colleagues and I think he only really began to "swing", in the particular style he went on to develop, in his famous quartet of the early sixties. But the fairly slow pace on this album enable him to play with more relaxation (if that's an appropriate word) than was often the case in previous recordings with Miles. He solos with typical probing intensity on the medium tempo tracks and with a kind of dignified tenderness on the slow pieces, "Flamenco Sketches" and "Blue in Green". There's a school of thought which holds that Cannonball Adderley, even if he is a technically accomplished musician playing at his best here, is 'the weakest link' in this group, unable to make anything genuinely his own out of his Charlie Parker clichés. On the other hand, Miles Davis obviously thought him worth employing on what he seems to have regarded as an important project. I leave you to make your own judgement.
Miles himself sounds majestic and supremely confident throughout, subtly varying his tone and making typically creative use of "spaces" in his melodic lines. He had often been at his most inspired when playing on blues based themes at a steady walking pace which gave him the time to think ahead, 'place' his phrases and shape his solos, as he does here on "All Blues", "Freddie Freeloader" and (although it's not a blues) "So What". On "Flamenco Sketches" his tightly muted trumpet gives his playing a sense of barely controlled passion that anticipates some of his work on the Sketches of Spain album; on the lovely ballad "Blue in Green" his use of the mute conveys more of a wistful, piercing lyricism. Of central importance to the music is pianist Bill Evans. The eight months he had previously spent with the group (Miles had invited him back for Kind of Blue) convinced Miles that he was the right man for the kind of album he had in mind. Not only was Evans closely involved in the evolution of the music, but also his calm, poised, impressionistic playing - behind the soloists and in his own finely wrought solos - is enormously important in sustaining the mood of each piece. Listen to the cryptic way in which his simple motifs on "So What" and his shimmering trills on "All Blues" establish the mood of those pieces from their opening bars. And who else could have 'orchestrated' the haunting "Blue in Green" with such glowing lyricism? (There seems to me a distinct slackening of tension in "Freddie Freeloader", the one piece on which Evans doesn't play.) Underneath all this interesting work by the soloists there is the calm, disciplined drumming of Jimmy Cobb and the rock steady beat of the magnificent Paul Chambers on bass.
Kind of Blue as a jazz album is important historically, but it's also timeless. And its modal harmonies and feeling of 'stillness-under-the-surface' create for many listeners a sense that each time the music plays, time itself is suspended.
on 7 January 2013
Of course this is one of the greatest albums ever made in any genre. But I see that Amazon are selling numerous editions, since the copyright has expired and everyone is out to make a few bucks off the back of this sublime work of art. Each of those editions carries the same customer reviews, though one product itself may vary markedly from another in terms of sound as well as liner notes etc. Yet Amazon is quite happy, apparently, to preside over this chaos, where the customer may purchase something only to discover it is not exactly the product as advertised (and recommended by 180+ customers). Add to this the general sloppiness in product descriptions (it would help if those responsible knew something about music) and the advantages of being able to go into a shop and buy exactly what one wants are clear - unfortunately, there aren't that many shops left, are there Amazon?
on 4 November 2008
It's just arrived and the package feels like it is worth the money. I already have all the music bar a few fragments of studio sequences and the "previously released in unauthorized form" 17:28 version of So What, but for the Miles completist it's wonderful to have.
Now - to sit back and luxuriate in this sublime music once again!
Words cannot really do justice to this album. If it catches you just right it is all about the experience and not some intellectual definition. It's a classic for a reason and a great introduction to Miles Davis and jazz in general. Lower the lights, open a bottle of red wine and put this on, it's what jazz is all about!
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This set comprises 3 albums recorded during 1957 to 1959. The compositions on CD1 are all by Miles Davis (Miles Dewey Davis III,May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991) as are those for the album Ascenseur pour I'Échafaud (Fontana) with the final 5 tracks from Somethin' Else providing a mix of standards and new compositions. CD2 features the musical cues for the 1958 Louis Malle film Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud. The original soundtrack to the film, as mixed and edited in 1958, and used for the screen, can be heard in tracks 1 to 10 of CD2. "Kind of Blue" (Columbia) has been cited by many music writers not only as Davis's best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. In 2002, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. "Somethin' Else" is a 1958 album by jazz musician Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, regarded as a landmark album in the hard bop and cool styles. This LP was notable for the presence and prominent contributions of Miles Davis, in one of his few recording dates for Blue Note Records. The running times are approx 48 minutes and 65 minutes. The sound quality is very good indeed, the set is well illustrated and packaged with the liner notes by Peter Gamble. Glenn Gretlund produced the compilation. Look out for more classic jazz albums from Not Now Music