At the pinnacle of those forward-thinking artists who challenged the status quo at the close of the buttoned-down, buttoned-up Eisenhower era, and brought us into the clear light of the 1960s – was Miles Davis. In every way, Kind of Blue (recorded and released on Columbia in 1959), starring Miles’ “first great quintet” – Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley (alto saxophone), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Bill Evans (piano) or Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums) – was the album that not only changed the private fan’s perception of jazz, but forever changed fellow musicians’ concepts as well.
Kind Of Blue Deluxe 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is an expansive and lavishly-designed 12-inch slip-case box set with a 60-page bound book that includes exclusive photographs, full discographical annotation, and critical essays written by Miles Davis authorities Francis Davis and Prof. Gerald Early, plus session transcripts by Ashley Kahn.
Francis Davis, contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and jazz columnist for The Village Voice, has won five ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for Excellence in Music Journalism. In addition to writing many books (among them The History of the Blues, Hyperion, 1995; and Jazz and Its Discontents: A Francis Davis Reader, Perseus, 2004), he has also written liner notes for over 60 jazz and pop albums, including titles by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans.
Prof. Gerald Early of Washington University is a widely published author, as well as the editor of Miles Davis and American Culture (Missouri Historical Society Press, 2001), a compendium of essays. Ashley Kahn is the author of several books, including Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece (Da Capo, 2000), and A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album (Viking, 2002).
Francis Davis (who wrote an entirely different 4,000-word liner notes essay for the box set), places the album in historic perspective: “Beyond jazz, Kind of Blue’s long-term influence has been enormous. Beginning with the Byrds, the Doors, Carlos Santana, and the Allman Brothers, most rock improvisation has been modal. What Davis did in 1959 (and what Coltrane did subsequently, by introducing non-Western scales) helped set the stage for minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. And if a certain horn riff on recent hits by Amy Winehouse and Christina Aguilera strikes you as familiar, that’s because their producer Mark Ronson borrowed it from James Brown’s 1967 hit “Cold Sweat” – a riff that the tune’s composer, Pee Wee Ellis, freely admits to lifting from “So What.”