Wikipedia says: “Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time…The album’s influence on music…has led music writers to acknowledge it as one of the most influential albums of all time. In 2002, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.”
This was the first, the classic, one of the most recognizable covers of all time, shot by Jay Meisel.
When this was digitally remastered and reissued as a CD, the cover changed. The Miles Davis on the new cover was that of the late 1970s and 1980s. Not the successful young business in the Wall Street suit.
For the legal minds reading this, the original cover has a recent legal history, all to do with copyright. Read this.
There has always been a bit of controversy about the music – who wrote what, and should have been credited, but was not. This was mainly about the pianist, the great Bill Evans. Here’s a note from the Bill Evans Website. “Bill Evans was the pianist in Miles Davis’ group in 1958, and after a few tracks recorded and less than a year touring with the band, left to form his own trio and expand his career,. He was called back to play on the now legendary “Kind of Blue” album in the spring of 1959. According to many sources, Miles concept for the modally-conceived tunes of the sessions was indeed based on the playing of Evans. Bill, in fact, penned “Blue In Green” (though the writer’s credit still usually goes to Miles, the Miles Davis Estate has finally admitted in 2002 on the official website , that Evans wrote the tune) and his piano sound is so much a part of the ambience of this historic album. “Kind of Blue” also featured the legendary musicians John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. … These liner notes below, written by Bill Evans, appear on the original recording sleeve.”
“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.
“The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation.
“This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflections, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician.
“Group improvisation is a further challenge. Aside from the weighty technical problem of collective coherent thinking, there is the very human, even social need for sympathy from all members to bend for the common result. This most difficult problem, I think, is beautifully met and solved on this recording.
“As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time,. Miles Davis presents here frameworks which are exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with sure reference to the primary conception.
“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.””
If you don’t have KoB yet (!!???!) go out and get it. NOW!!