Monday, November 21, 2005

Miles and Kind of Blue

Every recording Miles made was stellar- all examples of personal musical expression at its finest. In fact, some of these recordings such as Porgy and Bess or Milestones were considered supreme examples of styles not yet beknownst to the jazz world. With all of his music's freshness, some considered Miles to have peaked, unable to top some of the things he had already recorded. This is a very questionable thing to say though, for in Miles' mind and the mind of several critics, he had the best sextet ever backing him up. On saxophone, he had two saxophonists from opposite ends of the jazz spectrum. He combined John Coltrane, the expressionist, and Cannonball Adderley, the formalist, creating a yin-and-yang, perfect arousal of the body and mind. As a part of his core, or his rhythm section, he used Wynton Kelly, following the talents of Bill Evans and Red Garland on the piano- even combining the talents of the two. Jimmy Cobb played the drums, laying out the feel of the group. To top it off Paul Chambers kept the beat and played the chords on the bass.

This spectacular group, although they had played before, still had the best to come, proving those who said Miles had peaked wrong. Miles, searching for a new style to experiment with, came up with an idea to play jazz based on the diatonic modes, especially the Dorian. In experimenting with this in Milestones, Miles came up with modal jazz, simply jazz based on the diatonic modes. He told his group that there would be fewer chords, amounting for a greater amount of experimentation, leaving the basic boundaries and barriers presented by the harmonic structures formulated in bebop. Thus, birthed from modal jazz came Kind of Blue, the epitome of avant-garde expression in not just modal jazz, but jazz in general. In fact, over the years Kind of Blue has become jazz's best selling album.

Kind of Blue's definitive track, So What, became the track defining modal jazz and Miles forever. He took the use of the modes to the next level in this track, simply switching between two different keys in the Dorian mode throughout the track, D Dorian and Eb Dorian. This track along with Freddie Freeloader, Blue in Green, All Blues, and Flamenco Sketches quickly became jazz standards heard in different clubs and venues all throughout the world.

The feeling presented in Kind of Blue could only be made once though. The restraint of the recording studio atmosphere created the tension, making the pieces what they were. When played at venues, the group could never quite return to what they had done in the recording studio. Thus, Kind of Blue affirmed one thing- restraint and subtlety can make a big statement. From this, Kind of Blue became the Ghandi of the jazz world, proving critics that the best was still to come.

Works Cited

Carr, F. (1998). Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press.

Tirro, F. (1977). Jazz: A History. Toronto: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.


Blogger violinbrunetka said...

I'm guessing that this is like a preface for Davis's bio. You have good details. I like that you make your point quick, but yet have the details that you need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 4:12:00 PM  
Blogger SuzyGreenberg said...

The wording in the beginning of the second paragraph is a bit funky but the ending of it is good because it describes what kind of sound and freedom he was looking for in their music.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 6:56:00 PM  
Blogger gfunk5 said...

This actually was a segment based on Miles and the release of his album Kind of Blue. I tried to keep every thing fairly freely worded.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 7:22:00 PM  
Blogger TheloniusFunk said...

This is well-written. You gave great details about how Kind Of Blue came to be, great details about the album itself including the tracks, and great details about the effect it has had on the history of jazz.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger hollywoodhottie said...

I thought this was wonderful! Very nicely and professionally written. And I liked how you chose a topic - Kind of Blue - and stayed true to it. Great job!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger dbu_us said...

Very focused on a specific part of his life. Very fitting for a chapter in a book. Nice Job :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Very nice!! It really gave me a sense of the type of music this album had, especially since I havn't really heard him before. Nice job!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Keely said...

The "Ghandi of the jazz world??" Wow, that's amazing! I agree though. You can't go wrong with Kind of Blue.

Thursday, November 24, 2005 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Scott Spiegelberg said...

"beknownst" is too pretentious and unnecessary. Replace with "known in the jazz world." Or more accurately, "styles still unfamiliar to the jazz world." The first sentence should define what time period we are considering. Fix the dash to be an em-dash, usually made by option-dash. PC "played the chords"? Played the changes is better.

The first sentence of the second paragraph is too convoluted. The whole paragraph can flow better, from the technical description of modal jazz to Kind of Blue specifically.

The last paragraph, last sentence doesn't make sense. Why does being the Ghandi of the jazz world prove that the best was still to come? It's nice to tie together the whole section based on the critics' predictions, but this doesn't quite work.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 12:19:00 PM  

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