Right off the bat, I'm going to say that this Miles Davis recording, Kind of Blue is a must-have for any jazz collection, and should be considered by other music fans as well. I won't go so far as to say it is the best album of all time, but it certainly one of the most respected albums in jazz. And it is certainly one of my all-time favorite jazz recordings.
Kind of Blue was recorded in 1959 at the tail end of the big be-bop movement in jazz. Miles had grown tired of be-bop and wanted to explore different avenues of self-expression. This album was one of the first to feature "modal" improvisations. This kind of improvisation is based more on a scale or series of scales rather than sequences of chords and harmonies. In the context of Kind of Blue, the resulting improvisations came out as free-flowing melodies, which was what Miles was after.
Miles used some of the finest musicians available for this recording; today it could pass as an all-star band. Miles' reed section had Cannonbal Adderley on alto saxophone and John Coltrane on tenor. Pianist Bill Evans sat in on all tracks except "Freddie Freeloader", which Wynton Kelly played on. Paul Chambers gave the music its bottom end with the bass, and Jimmy Cobb provided the atmospheric drums, remaining unobtrusive most of the time but adding just the right punctuation when called for.
The original release was a three track record, but the CD I purchased had six tracks on it. They were So What, Freddie Freeloader, Blue in Green, All Blues, Flamenco Sketches, and a new alternate take on Flamenco Sketches added to the newest CD. My favorite track was Blue in Green, I like how mellow it was, and the way Miles played at the very beginning of the song was mesmerizing. I also enjoyed Flamenco Sketches. It was very smooth and a little different than the rest of the tracks included on the CD.
Kind of Blue is the recording on which, to the uninitiated, jazz suddenly makes sense.