Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis
Suggested by Neil Hodgkinson
I’d love to say that I like a bit of Jazz, but that’s clearly not allowed.
About twenty years back, one of my side hustles was Murder Mystery Theatre. I was part of a group hired by a venue to perform murder mystery plays during a dinner party of, say, fifty to one hundred guests. They’d watch our scenes acted around them over the starters, question us in character at their tables over the mains, submit their theories over deserts, and gasp at the gristly denouement over coffee. It was a barrel of fun, not least because, while being interrogated in character at the diners’ tables, I’d refuse to spill the beans until plied with gin and tonic.
The head honcho of the company was a big fan of Jazz. Once, when passing the time and filling in the pregnant conversational lulls that blight all fresh budding relationships, I mentioned in passing that I too “liked a bit of Jazz.” I don’t know why I said it, because while I’d love to say I have at least a semblance of knowledge of the artform in a broad sense, even that was patently untrue. I suppose I was simply saying words to dull the silence, blissfully unaware of the oncoming storm.
Because the man knew Jazz.
Upon hearing of our apparent kinship, he latched onto me like a limpet, opening his cavernous Jazz maw, drowning me in a belching deluge of off-key and -kilter minutiae that put me off the music for life. Not because of the music itself, mind: because of the intensity of its acolytes.
Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue is a sixty-year-old classic, and if I’m honest I’m probably too terrified to denigrate it. When this was initially Randomised, the comments flowed with suggesters praising the choice, telling all that they’d have suggested it if it hadn’t already made the list, listing their favourite Jazz songs and subgenres and more. Lovely engagement, and fun interactions, but hugely daunting to a neophyte like me.
There are five tracks on Kind of Blue, ranging from almost six minutes to almost twelve minutes. It’s Jazz Trumpet with Davis’s ensemble sextet of saxes, piano, bass and drums. It’s a modal piece, whatever that means, and it’s widely regarded as the cornerstone of the genre, and one of the most influential albums of all time.
And it all sounds the same.
Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful. It’s breathtakingly subtle and nuanced, and almost haunting in places. But to me, the whole album could be a single forty-five minute track, with the beginning sounding like the middle sounding like the end. My standout would be the slightly slower middle section of this forty-five minute opus. To you, that’d be called Blue in Green.
I know, I know. I’m uninformed, uncultured, an idiot. I’m at peace with that. I’m sure I’d get a lot more out of this if I armed myself with some knowledge on the subject, but all desire to do so was bludgeoned out of me twenty years ago in a dressing room of a Blackpool hotel, by a Jazz fan who in retrospect was clearly a desperately lonely man.
Kind of Blue gets 5/10, in the knowledge that I’m sure to be roasted in the comments.