Kind of Blue is a monument. Still, standard works of reference that have over the years become cornerstones of a particular genre can sometimes be intimidating for the beginner. Want to explore the world of jazz but don’t know where to start? The vast bulk of modern jazz simply derives from Kind of Blue, which remains an essential point of entry for a lot of people.
Just listen to Kind of Blue while reading Bill Evans’ enlightening liner notes for the original 1959 LP release:
There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere. Bill Evans
In the recording studio, jazz improvisation as Zen calligraphy translated as follows:
Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore, you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances. The group had never played these pieces prior to the recordings and I think without exception the first complete performance of each was a “take”. Bill Evans
Needless to say Miles Davis and Kind of Blue have opened my ears to Jazz…and to everything else.