"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

1958 / 1964 - So What

Update: shmul recommends in the comments Bill Evan's "Sunday at the Village Vanguard". Oh. My. Yeah, that is a fantastic recording. It's probably another heavy link to Evans' addictions. Evans was always in search of his ideal bassist, and found Scott LaFaro. They developed their sound together, just as Evans did with Davis. A few days after these recordings, LaFaro was killed in a car accident. Evans was devastated.

Previously: Now with the correct links.

Compare a 1958 recording of So What (via Steve Dekorte) with a 1964 recording. What happened? Free jazz. And the Beatles.

Coltrane was on the edge of 1964 already in 1958. Miles Davis' sound for "Kind of Blue" was settling in. They could not have recorded it earlier or later than 1959. There's nothing else like it.

It could not have been recorded without Davis of course. Also indispensable: Bill Evans and Coltrane. Probably indispensable: Cannonball Adderley for the way he and Coltrane interact.

Bill Evans was still playing his sound he found around 1959, in 1979, just about dead from addictions that began in Mile's group, playing under incredible pressure from black audiences pissed off by a white pianist in the group. Davis was an icon in the black community in the 1950s. Incredibly successful and refusing to take any shit from powerful white men. By standing up for Evans, Davis showed he'd take no shit from black fans either: Davis was in awe of Evans' sound and made that sound the centerpiece of Kind of Blue even though the piano itself is not a centerpiece. The two of them came together perfectly influencing each other's sound.

(Aside: unlike Evans, Davis was able to hole himself up at his parent's place and kick his habit before this time. Evans would hole himself up at his family home subsequently, but never could kick all of his addictions. He slowly eroded his body's chance of ever recovering over 20 years. The pain from earlier damage fueled more drug use. Read his biography -- not as dramatic as other addicted musicians -- just incredibly slow, painful erosion.)

Anyway, Evans played on every piece on Kind of Blue except Freddie Freeloader. Listen to his notes on those pieces... unbelievably the right note in the right place at the right time. But Kind of Blue would be a snoozer if the only sounds were Davis' and Evans'. The saxophones and everything else keep the whole thing from falling over from inertia.

Kind of Blue is still my favorite album from any genre, any era. I bought my first copy as a teenager about 1977. I don't know how many hours I've listened to it, but it is a lot.

5 comments:

Matt Dimmic said...

Your links for both the 50's recording and the 60's recording are the same.

Anonymous said...

well.... i guess you did copy and paste the same google-video link twice... or was this a psychological test, if we would hear something different as your introduction would us make suspect ?

nevertheless, i liked to find this interesting comparison surrounded by your computer focused articles. at least i know now, what songs will accompany my morning working hours....

Patrick Logan said...

Thanks -- I fixed the links.

gcorriga said...

Manual Trackback:

http://blogs.corriga.net/giovanni/archives/2007/10/23/miles_davis_so_what_1958/

Shmul said...

Kind of Blue is one of a small number of CDs that bring tears to my eyes from the very first note (so is Evans' Sunday at the Village Vangaurd). It was a pleasant surprise reading this post in an otherwise techie blog (It feels more personal).

One of quotes I like the most regarding Kind of Blue is (the late and great) Duane Allman's "... I've listened to that album so many times that for the past couple of years, I haven't hardly listened to anything else." (taken from http://www.cannonball-adderley.com/miles/miles07.htm).

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.