Miles Davis captivated the world with his masterful melodies and jazzy jams for more than half a century, gifting the world of music with master works such as “Kind of Blue”, considered by some to be the finest composition ever made in the modern age. Check out some other quintessential tunes from the Prince of Darkness as the world celebrates Miles Davis’ 90th anniversary.
“Blue in Green”
The modal ups and downs of “Blue and Green” are arguably some of the coolest jazz bars ever produced. Plaintive and drawn out, the stumbling piano of Bill Evans punctuates the backing melodies, while the muted trumpet pulls of the Dark Prince himself ooze with a melancholic longing – perhaps for the dusky evenings of Arkansas and the Mississippi banks, where the master first encountered jazz.
Building to a complex polyphony of muffled bass strikes and jostling trumpet draws, clattering snares and easy-living improvisations, “So What” remains unquestionably the most iconic tune on Davis’ most iconic album “Kind of Blue”. It was recorded in 1959, and oozes with the ad-lib influences of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker alike.
A curious track regarded as one of the first real post-bop tunes of the 60s, “Nefertiti” is known for its twisting of the usual melody-backing arrangement. Notice how that wailing flugelhorn takes backseat to the racketing drums and snare hits behind, and the lack of any distinct solo pieces – a hard departure from the lengthy improvs on “Kind of Blue”.
Produced without the help of revered pianist Bill Evans, “Freddie Freeloader” is often overlooked in favor of the better-known masterpieces on “Kind of Blue”. And while the light ivory tickles of Evans are certainly missed, there’s no question that the mellow and mellifluous interplay of cheerful cadences and simple 12 measures is a stroke of jazz genius.
The masterful and melancholic “Flamenco Sketches” has a lacing of Andalusian flavor. Ticking over in wistful highs and lows, the tune features the trademark keys of Bill Evans and one haunting solo that comes in layer after layer of alto sax elegance from John Coltrane. Davis contributes a bluesy improvisation, swinging between a sort of Moorish mystery and brilliant, hypnotic New York Orientalism.