August 17: Miles Davis released Kind of Blue in 1959
Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released August 17, 1959, on Columbia Records in the United States. Recording sessions for the album took place at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York City on March 2 and April 22, 1959. The sessions featured Davis’s ensemble sextet, which consisted of pianist Bill Evans (Wynton Kelly on one track), drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and Davis’s masterpiece.
The album’s influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical music, has led music writers to acknowledge it as one of the most influential albums ever made. In 2002, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
“My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise…a part of yourself you never knew existed.”
“To the person who uses music as a medium for the expression of ideas, feelings, images, or what have you; anything which facilitates this expression is properly his instrument.”
He does it all, and he does it in ways that surprise you and conform to the needs and the genius of the soloist.
~Gary Giddins, jazz writer
Evans, like most musical geniuses (a title bestowed by Miles [Davis]) shows a roving spirit and a probing desire to create new sounds, investigate new territories, and not be pigeon-holed into one space.
~R.J. Deluke (allaboutjazz.com)
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There’s little else to say except that ‘Round About Midnight is among the most essential of Davis’ Columbia recordings.
~Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)
An absolute classic of modern jazz, with brilliant solo work from the leader and from Coltrane, who was preparing for his own solo career at this point, plus subtle backing from the rhythm section. Tunes range from Monk’s famous title track to the ancient standard “Bye Bye Blackbird.”
~Wilson & Alroy’s Record Reviews
Stylistically, Midnight encompasses standards (or soon-to-be standards) such as “Dear Old Stockholm”, “Bye-Bye Blackbird”, Tadd Dameron’s “Tadd’s Delight”, and Jackie McLean’s forward-thinking composition “Little Melonae.” Miles and company reprise “Budo” from the historic Birth of the Cool sessions. The standout track is Davis’s Harmon-muted reading of Thelonious Monk’s ballad, “‘Round Midnight”, which is still a Miles standard bearer… If you want to hear the origins of post-bop modern jazz, this is it.
~Eugene Holley, Jr.