‘Kind of Blue’ Turns 60

There’s a reason Miles Davis’ seminal work is widely acknowledged as the greatest jazz album of all time.

There is nothing new to say about Kind of Blue, Miles Davis’ sixth studio recording on Columbia, so I won’t try.

Released today in 1959—in the middle of a prolific three year period that birthed style jumping masterpieces like Miles Ahead, Milestones, Jazz Track, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of SpainKind of Blue is widely seen as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, jazz recordings of all time. It’s an essential title on any vinyl collector’s shelf, whether they’re a jazz aficionado or not.

Featuring the one of the finest sextets of all time—Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on alto sax, John Coltrane on tenor, Bill Evans on piano (with the exception of Wynton Kelly on “Freddie Freeloader”), Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums—Kind of Blue is quintessential post-bebop, modal jazz. It’s instantly recognizable, deliciously refined, understated and likely what most people would describe if asked what “jazz” sounds like.

It’s the best selling jazz record of all time for more than one reason. Some those reasons: (1) earworm opener “So What” retains your absolute attention, from the Evans’ quiet piano chords and Chambers’ rompy bass line, to the relentlessly melodic riffs of Davis and Coltrane, (2) the dreamy, muted, brush-stroked world of “Blue in Green” feels like the best kind of floating, and (3) “Flamenco Sketches” is, simply stated, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

Too much is said about this record, but it really should be heard. Again and again.