OK this one is really obvious, which is not surprising as it’s the bestselling jazz album ever. When I started getting into jazz I had already heard of Miles Davis and this is often the one jazz album that people who are not really into jazz have. Although it came out in 1959 it still sells well every year. Every track is fantastic – simple, clear, elegant and like John Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’, sounds fresh every time I hear it.

Ashley Khan’s great book about the recording of the album, that my brother Tim bought me, gives a real insight in how the album was put together in 2 days. In fact, it was just two sessions, one lasting six hours and the other just three. That’s several lifetimes less than ‘Chinese Democracy by Guns & Roses! For each session Miles Davis arrived with basic sketches of what they were to play and off they went. They did a few takes of the tracks and the album I have has two versions of ‘Flamenco Sketches’. The album is Miles’s ‘Modal Masterpiece’, where he uses modes for the solos. Modes are basically scales that start on a different note than the traditional western scales. In modern jazz up to that point the soloist changed scales frequently when the chords changed. On ‘Kind of Blue’ the soloist would stick to one mode for much longer, which meant that they had more freedom but had to be more inventive with their melodies to stop it getting boring.  

It has an amazing line up of musicians who went on to lead bands of their own. As well as sax players John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley there is also the pianist Bill Evans, who wrote some of the music. There are up tempo numbers, blues and the beautiful, impressionism of ‘Blue in Green’, which I’m listening to as I write, and is the reason I bought a Harmon mute.

Richard Williams in his book ‘The Blue Moment’ argues it is probably the most influential album of the second half of the 20th Century, with an impact on people such as The Velvet Underground, U2, Brian Eno an The Who.

In a recent interview I was asked, ‘You’re stuck on an island, it’s hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?’ Having already said ‘Kind of Blue’ was an influence, I answered, ‘Going back to Miles Davis and ‘Kind of Blue’ it would have to be ‘Blue in Green’, which has that lovely, chilled ambience that would help you forget that you are stuck on an island and you are running out of battery on your phone!’

If you have not heard it before, do yourself a favour and do so now. If you already know the album, go back and listen to it again. You know you want to.

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