Miles Davis Sextet: Kind Of Blue

Bonus tracks added to the modal bestseller allow the genial Hank Jones to impinge on the world of the merchant of gloom

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The best-selling jazz album of all time is here expanded with four familiar tracks from previous years. The invaluable 11 minute Adderley-led Autumn Leaves is a triumph for Miles, allowing, as it does, the almost perfect Hank Jones a rare chance to impinge on the world of the merchant of gloom. On the face of it, Hank and Miles were made for each other.

With Kind Of Blue Davis had reached the most eloquent point of his trumpet career. Not surprising then that he was able to create a masterpiece, drawing along and supercharging the careers of Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane and Bill Evans, each of whom became a bandleader shortly afterwards.

Basic blues simplicity ensures the enduring freshness of much of the material. Most collectors of taste will have these tracks already, except perhaps the Evans trio and its return to Blue In Green. Davis’s solo on So What is one of his best, improvised with great poise and clarity. He leads the solo order and is followed by Trane and Cannonball, the three, with Bill Evans and the whole album neatly encapsulating an era in the way that Louis’s Hot Fives and Sevens did in their day. Here, if you’ll accept the analogy, is Miles’s West End Blues.

Listening to the effective, simple logic of Trane’s creation, it’s hard to remember that at the time we found him not only superbly refreshing but “difficult”. And hindsight shows how smoothly Cannonball, then regarded as out of his league, ranks alongside Miles and Trane. Cannon and Trane had copyrights on differing types of volubility.

The CD is housed in a 90-page hardback book by the excellent writer Brian Morton, but, understandably, faced with the inevitably more comprehensive conventional hardback by Ashley Kahn, he finds little new of moment to say and resorts to analogy, often irrelevantly, with films.

Discography
(1) So What; (2) Freddie Freeloader; (1) Blue In Green; All Blues; Flamenco Sketches; (3) Blue In Green; (4) Round Midnight; Bye Bye Blackbird; (5) Autumn Leaves (76.56)
(1) Davis (t); Cannonball Adderley (as); John Coltrane (ts); Bill Evans (p); Paul Chambers (b); Jimmy Cobb (d). NYC, March-April 1959.
(2) as (1) but Wynton Kelly replaces Evans.
(3) Bill Evans (p); Scott La Faro (b); Paul Motian (d). NYC, 28 December 1959.
(4) Davis (t); Adderley (as); Hank Jones (p); Sam Jones (b); Art Blakey (d). Hackensack, 9 March, 1958.
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