Kind of Blue

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Kind of Blue
Studio album by Miles Davis


17th August 1959


March 2, 1959 , April 22, 1959

Label (s) Columbia Records

Format (s)


Genre (s)

Modal jazz

Title (number)


running time




Irving Townsend, Teo Macero & Fred Plaut ( sound engineer )

Studio (s)

CBS 30th Street Studio , New York City

Porgy and Bess
Kind of Blue Sketches of Spain
Miles Davis in New York City in the mid-1950s

Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis . It was recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959 in New York and was released in 1959 on Columbia Records . It is considered a milestone in the history of the genre and is also the most commercially successful jazz album. The German-language edition of the music magazine Rolling Stone chose Kind of Blue 2013 in the selection of the 100 best jazz albums in second place. It also enjoys a legendary reputation because of the brilliant recording technology of the Munich- based sound engineer Fred Plaut . Kind of Blue was one of the first commercially sold stereo - LPs , the sound set by its spaciousness and clarity a still valid scale.


The recordings took place over two days in the legendary CBS 30th Street Studio , which was located in a former church. Davis' bandmates received the standard wage for session musicians, which at the time was $ 48.50 for a three-hour session. However, Chambers, Adderley and Coltrane asked for an additional $ 100, which they also received.

Contrary to legends to the contrary, not a single “first take ” (German: first recording that can be used immediately) can be heard on the album in the actual sense. With the exception of flamenco sketches , all pieces have only been played through in full once; For each title, however, several attempts were needed, which the artists aborted for various reasons (technical noise, poorly played). The basic principle of the record was that all pieces were interpreted at a moderate pace and the band only got to see the compositions in the studio, so that no musician could fall back on routines.

First session on March 2, 1959

The pianist Wynton Kelly, a regular pianist in Davis' quintet at the time, only found out in the studio that Bill Evans, who had left the sextet in the fall of 1957, had been brought back for the session.

First, Freddie Freeloader was recorded. The piece is a 12 bar blues in B flat . Since it was not possible to mix recordings afterwards in 1959 and the placement of the musicians and their microphones was crucial for their volume balance, Chambers' bass solo is very quiet on this piece. At the time of recording, none of the pieces had a title. Freddie Freeloader was named after a bartender in the "nightlife" in Philadelphia , who is described as a colorful person who kept himself afloat by plugging things in (hence his nickname "Freddie the Freeloader" - Freddie the freeloader).

So What was recorded next . The title was one of Davis' favorite expressions and means something like "so what". The piece, whose harmonies consist entirely of the Doric mode , is the most famous and most frequently performed piece on the album. It took a few tries before Bill Evans, who had now taken over the piano, and Paul Chambers played the intro well together. In addition, the bass played the melody, which was very rare at the time.

After that, the group recorded Blue in Green . After a four-bar introduction, the piece has a ten-bar form - unusually short at the time. Cannonball skipped Adderley on this track, perhaps because his exuberant style would have countered the melancholy mood of the piece.

Miles Davis actually wanted to record more than the three pieces, but the booked time from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. was over and - as unusual as it seems today - the studio was after still booked for the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra . So a second session was arranged for April 22nd.

During the entire recording, the master tape machine ran slightly slower due to a motor problem, which resulted in the music being transposed up by about a quarter tone when it was played. It was not until 1992 that the problem was discovered and fixed with the help of the backup copy that had been recorded at the correct speed.

Second session on April 22, 1959

The recordings for the second session began with the piece Flamenco Sketches . The basis for this was Bill Evans' composition Peace Piece . It was changed and Evans and Davis made sketches of the course of the piece for the other musicians. Five scales were played in succession, the last, a Phrygian , giving the piece a Spanish flair, which ultimately led to the title " Flamenco Sketches". The first take immediately provided a complete recording, which is included on the new CD as a bonus track. Sound engineer Fred Plaut decided that another attempt should be made, and it took until the sixth take to record the version that can be heard on the finished album. Flamenco Sketches is the only piece on Kind of Blue that has a full alternate recording. Davis' statements as to whether the piece was actually written by Evans and himself together are contradictory. In his biography he claims the authorship of the entire album for himself, but he confirmed Evans' compositional contribution to friends and colleagues. Jimmy Cobb also highlights Bill Evans as a composer.

At the end the band played All Blues , a 12-bar blues in 6/8 time. The piece demanded a lot, especially from Chambers, as he had to play the formative ostinato scheme on his bass for eleven and a half minutes .

The pianist Wynton Kelly was not present at this session. The photographer Don Hunstein was in the studio for this, and the sound engineer Fred Plaut also had his private camera with him, with which he took a few snapshots. As a result, the second session is documented in detail with photographs, while no pictures were taken during the first.

Album title

On the record cover all titles are shown as Miles Davis compositions; there is now general agreement that Bill Evans wrote the piece Blue in Green and Gil Evans wrote the intro to So What . The piece Flamenco Sketches was also based on an adaptation of Bill Evans' piece Peace Piece .

page 1
1. So What - 9:05
2. Freddie Freeloader - 9:35
3. Blue in Green - 5:28
Page 2
4. All Blues - 11:33
5. Flamenco Sketches - 9:25
Bonus track (CD)
6. Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take) - 9:31

Album cover

The cover designer, S. Neil Fujita , originally intended to have an artist create a painting for Kind of Blue , but Miles Davis insisted that a photograph be used. Fujita then used a picture that Jay Maisel had taken while performing at the Apollo Theater .

Julian Adderley's name is misrepresented on the original cover (Adderly). The name was not spelled correctly until the 1997 reissue of the CD. Originally the title names of All Blues and Flamenco Sketches were confused, so that the album ended with All Blues on the first 50,000 copies . The text accompanying the LP was written by Bill Evans.

When the album was released on CD in 1986 as part of the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series, it was given a cover with a photo that was taken much later, as can easily be seen from Davis' clothing. It was also mirrored so that Davis left-handed his trumpet on it.


source rating
Rolling Stone
Penguin Guide to Jazz
All about jazz

The solos on Kind of Blue are much slower with drawn out notes, a hallmark of modal jazz, which was still quite new at the time . While in bebop, for example, the harmony and thus the scale for the instrumentalist changes after almost every bar, in modal jazz the same harmony is used over 16 or more bars , which opened up completely new possibilities for the musicians.

Kind of Blue is considered the album of modal jazz par excellence and, according to the RIAA, is also the best-selling album in the history of jazz with 5 million units sold in the United States and 6 million units worldwide . What is unique about this commercial success is that it “corresponds to the artistic meaning of the recording”. According to music critic Richard Williams , who wrote a monograph on the impact of Kind of Blue on the development of popular music, this album contained the "sound of isolation."

Because of its cultural and historical significance to the United States, the album was entered into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress on January 27, 2003 . On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, Kind of Blue was honored in 2009 by the House of Representatives of the United States with resolution 894 for the merit of “reaffirming jazz as a national treasure”.

The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1992.

The trade magazine Jazzwise chose Kind of Blue as number 1 of the 100 Jazz Albums That Shook the World .

Kind of Blue is one of the most highly rated albums in music history and received top ratings from Rolling Stone , the Penguin Guide to Jazz , Allmusic and Pitchfork , among others . Rolling Stone ranks Kind of Blue at number 12 of the 500 best albums of all time . In the list of the 100 best jazz albums in the German-language edition, it takes second place behind A Love Supreme .

The New Musical Express voted it 79th of the 500 best albums of all time. The magazine Time took Kind of Blue on the compilation of the 100 most important albums. The album was included in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die .


The actual release of the album took place on August 17, 1959. Countless new releases followed. The more significant of these include the first CD release in 1984 and the 1997 remastered version, which plays the first three tracks at corrected speed and includes the additional take of Flamenco Sketches . In 2005, Kind of Blue was released as a dual disc, on one side there is the normal CD from the 1997 release, on the other there is a DVD with the album in 5.1 surround sound and LPCM stereo, a 25-minute documentary and interviews.

At the end of 2008, to mark the 50th anniversary of the album, a deluxe edition was released which, in addition to a long-playing record, contains two CDs with all the material from the two recording sessions and other recordings by the sextet. This is supplemented by an extensive, large-format booklet with essays by Francis Davis and Gerald Early on the reception of the album and the figure Miles Davis in her time, as well as Ashley Kahn's analysis of Davis' leadership qualities based on the studio conversations.

In May 2019, the British loudspeaker manufacturer PMC performed a remixed Dolby Atmos version of Kind of Blue at the Munich special fair High End . The album's surround remix was made from the original tapes at Capitol Studios , Los Angeles , and was praised by Davis' family members as the way " Kind of Blue should be heard". It is still unknown whether and when this version will be launched.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Rolling Stone: The 100 Best Jazz Albums . Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. The first stereo LP came out in 1957, but it was more experimental in character.
  3. a b cf. Hans-Jürgen Schaal (Ed.): Jazz standards. The encyclopedia. 3rd, revised edition. Bärenreiter, Kassel u. a. 2004, ISBN 3-7618-1414-3 , p. 26.
  4. Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine on (accessed August 5, 2015)
  5. Review by Arne Willander on (accessed on August 5, 2015)
  6. Review by Ryan Schreiber ( Memento from October 5, 2002 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed August 5, 2015)
  7. ^ Brian Morton and Richard Cook: The Penguin Jazz Guide , Penguin Books
  8. Review by Nenad Georgievski on (accessed April 20, 2018)
  9. Review by Erich Renz on (accessed on August 5, 2015)
  10. ^ Gold & Platinum Search: Kind of Blue . RIAA. October 7, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  11. ^ Rondo 2008
  12. cit. after Dylan Jones: Why Miles Davis' Bitches Brew is such an extraordinary record. GQ - Gentlemen's Quarterly 2020, accessed May 10, 2020 .
  13. ^ Kind of Blue in the National Recording Registry. Retrieved August 14, 2017 .
  14. H.Res. 894 - Honoring the 50th anniversary of the recording of the album "Kind of Blue" and reaffirming jazz as a national treasure on (accessed on May 1, 2018)
  15. Grammy Awards: Miles Davis on (accessed May 1, 2018)
  16. The 100 Jazz Albums That Shook The World on (accessed May 20, 2018)
  17. 12th place: Kind of Blue on, accessed on September 17, 2015
  18. The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time on (accessed April 20, 2018)
  19. All-TIME 100 Albums on (accessed May 20, 2018)
  20. PMC remixes Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue in Dolby Atmos for High End Munich 2019 on (accessed August 17, 2019)
  21. PMC Remix Miles Davis Classics 'Kind Of Blue' & 'Sketches Of Spain' For High End Munich 2019 on (accessed August 17, 2019)