Tuesday, April 21, 2009

File Under: Blue, Kind Of

This Wednesday evening's Jazz gets underway at 8 with a special one-hour radio documentary on the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, the best selling jazz record in history.

Pianist Bill Evans' famous album notes compare the modal improvisation on Kind of Blue to a Japanese brush technique where the delicate paper tears if the brush is pressed too hard or moved in the wrong direction. I remember first hearing the music in college, sitting around with music friends listening, analyzing and sharing amazement at the quiet beauty of art made perfect.

Recorded in two sessions, the April 22nd, 1959 Kind of Blue session resulted in the classics, "Flamenco Sketches" and "All Blues". We'll hear them in their entirety in the 9 o'clock hour, along with music from other 1959 jazz milestones including bassist & composer Charles Mingus' Mingus Ah Um (Mingus was born on April 22nd!).

In addition to Kind of Blue, 1959 marked a watermark in jazz history with the recording of Dave Brubeck's Take Five, Ornette Coleman's The Shape Of Jazz To Come, John Coltrane's Giant Steps and a long list of other seminal albums. Sadly, it also marked the passing of a few jazz giants: Lester Young (March 15), Sidney Bechet (May 14) and Billie Holiday (July 17).

1959 was an extraordinary year in jazz by any measure.

I hope you'll join me tomorrow evening starting at 8, for VPR's Kind of Blue tribute.

George Thomas
VPR Jazz Host

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