Thursday, February 5, 2009

50 Years of Blue

In the same edition of Newsweek I mentioned yesterday, there is an article about the 5oth anniversary of the release of Miles Davis' legendary jazz recording, Kind of Blue. I have enjoyed Kind of Blue for close to ten years myself, and I appreciated learning more about the background and history of this recording.

Here's a quote I particularly enjoyed:

"Kind of Blue" has little historical import beyond its musical influence, but it makes a terrific cultural milestone against which we can measure a half century of change. Certainly the album made Davis a star—yes, in 1959 jazz musicians could still be pop stars—and in doing that it put before the public a black man unafraid to speak his mind and unwilling to compromise his art to please or appease anyone.

In the materials accompanying the anniversary editions of the album, there is a picture of Davis draping his arms over pianist Bill Evans while demonstrating something on the keyboard.
Today the picture seems innocuous, but in 1959 it could have caused a riot in certain parts of this country: a black man almost hugging a white man, a black man instructing a white man, a black man who was the white man's boss. It is a measure of just how polarizing a figure Davis was that he took criticism from both the white and the black communities. While Evans was a member of the band, Davis got an earful from black people who thought he should hire only African-Americans. In his public pronouncements, Davis could be intemperate, petulant and contrarian, but when it came to his music, he was always clearheaded and colorblind."

In the liner notes to the CD, I remember reading a quote from Jimmy Cobb, the drummer on the recording. He said that Kind of Blue 'must have been made in heaven.'

While I am pretty sure that the recording was in fact made on earth, not heaven, I do believe that a cultural artifact as beautiful as Kind of Blue can and does bring delight to the heart of God, and may well be enjoyed on the New Earth that God will fashion when Jesus returns.

But that is a post for another day!

For now, has anyone else enjoyed this CD? Let me know in the comments section.


  1. Probably one of the most beautiful albums of all time. When you consider that Miles came into the recording session with just some sketches of the tunes; it really points to the amazing creativity of these artists to realize what Miles had imagined. Blue in Green is still my favorite from the album as well as all of Cannonball's playing.

  2. Gerry, I knew I'd get a comment from you on this one! Hard for me to choose which album I enjoy better, Kind of Blue or Saxophone Colossus. For sitting around and reading, I'd have to go with Miles.