on March 13, 2009
I have owned nearly every digital version of this album.
I had the first one from the wrong tape. I then got the Gold 'corrected' version, then I got the mass release of the 're-master'. I bought the SACD.
Now this re-master (by the same folks who did the first re-master).
OK... so here's my take.
Let's forget the first CD. It was a mistake.
The Gold was the right speed, but the two track master used is just dead and the mix is awful, allowing too much echo in some parts, not enough presence, and some passages of horn are just nearly impossible to hear well.
The first re-master was a revelation. The horns were right up front, the balance was greatly improved and you could tell that they remixed it from the original 3-track. I loved the new Alternate Take of Flamenco Sketches. But something was wrong. This was obviously meant for the iPod crowd, and not for audiophiles. The channels had been normalized to HOT and without using any dynamic compression. The loud horn passages were all clipped severely, resulting in a viciously harsh presentation.
The SACD is a joke. They made this a 5.1 disc for some stupid reason, adding echo - reverb - whatever, in the rear channels. Whaaaa? Come on, I just wanted to hear the original 3-track masters as faithfully as possible. Ugh... Even being DSD does not help this mess.
Finally... this last release is done right. The balance is correct. There is NO clipping. It's near perfect in its presence. The middle channel is well represented (phantom), and the soundstage is wonderful. The horns have warmth that the clipped version just couldn't create. This is finally done properly... by the same folks. So how come they got all the others so wrong??
So... even if you have the last releases, this one (the 50th Anniversary) has to be purchased because it is the only one that is correct. It is the only one that actually represents the best possible 2-channel CD-quality mix. Obviously it's not perfect in that it is still only 16bit - 44.1khz, but it's a vast improvement.
on January 29, 2009
"Kind of Blue" is an album that all collectors with even a passing interesting in jazz should own. No need to review the core album as most listeners would be familiar with it by now and there are tons of testimonials for the original.
So why the special "Legacy Edition?"
This is not for everyone to be sure, but for listeners who really love this album, Miles Davis, and jazz of the 1950's and early 60's, "Legacy Edition" will give more insight into the material and help the listener appreciate more of what went into making "Kind of Blue" the great jazz standard that it is.
While it might overkill for some, true jazz lovers and "Kind of Blue" fans will not only get some nice second helpings from the album, they'll also get an idea of how Davis and his all-star cast created this gem.
One other note, those having old CD copies of "Kind of Blue," the ones with the animated profile of Miles on the booklet cover, not the recreation of the original LP cover, should definitely ditch their old CD and get the new remastered release. It is a huge improvement. Instead of sounding washed out and slightly off pitch, the remaster sounds fresh, with very high resolution, warm, and intimate, just the way Miles Davis and his stellar side kicks recorded it.
on February 13, 2005
KIND OF BLUE has been reissued so frequently that I fear something is amiss if a year goes by without a new and improved version popping up somewhere in the world. This 2005 edition provides an audiophile surround-sound option that is compatible with regular DVD players (unlike the SACD version which requires special hardware). On both 5.1 versions the sound is subtly widened while keeping the integrity of the original mix. As a bonus option there is a 25 minute video documentary about the album, featuring interviews with prominent musical artists from different generations and genres. All but the most knowledgeable Miles fans should find it to be an informative overview of arguably jazz's greatest album of all-time.
In the documentary drummer Jimmy Cobb -- the only surviving participant -- stated that he didn't understand why KIND OF BLUE stands out above any of Miles' many other outstanding albums. Perhaps it is because the user-friendly music satisfies the listener at whatever level they prefer. If you want to get emotively involved with the music, it leads you there. If you're a musician looking to pick apart the music, you'll discover a level of sophistication attained by very few. If you want to relax, the music is soothing on its surface. If you want to hear memorable improvisations, Miles and his sidemen lead the way by avoiding the use of cliched phrases. If you want to hear teamwork, the musicians know how to create together (when to play and when NOT to play). If you want something timeless, the music's freshness has no expiration date. Yet if you have a nostalgic twinge for the cool, acoustic jazz of the 1950s, this album will take you back in time.
on June 26, 2000
If your idea of the perfect jazz record is Kenny G's Duotones, then don't bother reading this cause it talks about the REAL thing.
Well this is THE jazz album to start off with. I'm sure you've all heard that before, but, it's quite true. From Freddie Freeloader to All Blues, we are constantly reminded of what a genius time it was for jazz in that period. Just look at the all-star line-up on here, Cannonball, Coltrane, Bill - simply amazing! This is a disc that everyone has heard before at some point in their life whether they were aware or not. The saying that this is the most influential jazz record may be true, I tend to think its the most rewarding. This re-release version is superb! It contains an alternative version of "Flamenco Sketches" and original photo package to boot. the sound is by far the best this recording has ever seen. This is a recording the word masterpiece is reserved for. An absolute must own!
If this is your first jump into real jazz might I suggest, Cannonball Adderly's "Somethin Else" or Coltrane's "Love Supreme", both make excellent companions to "Kind of Blue".
on December 26, 2002
KIND OF BLUE (1959) has a stark, hushed, understated, but very heady nature, a staggering difference from the previous year's MILESTONES. KIND OF BLUE went on to become a mega-classic, historic and trend setting. It introduced modal tunes to jazz, which provide much more space for improvising on each chord compared to conventional jazz tunes and standards. Consider "So What," which opens the album. There are but two chords, D minor 7th and E-flat minor 7th, and there are spots were 24 bars pass, all on the D minor 7th. This allows the soloist to--as Miles put it--stay in the mode. The song initiated a wave of influence and inspired a host of modal tunes, including John Coltrane's "Impressions" (built on the same chords and structure). "So What" also has the very rare instance of the melody being played by the bassist (but this was Paul Chambers; check out his Blue Note album BASS ON TOP from 1957). For those who don't know, the late Bill Evans is a jazz-piano icon. This brilliant innovator contributed two compositions here: "Blue In Green" and "Flamenco Sketches." Bill's hypnotic vamps and harmonically rich voicings add to the heady atmosphere that Miles typically created with his sparse, cerebral style.
It's difficult to pick out high points; the whole album is on such a high level. Coltrane, Adderley, Evans...these guys could play. The solos throughout are haunting and magical. All of the compositions exhibit unusual and sometimes subtle characteristics, like the altered blues changes in "Freddie Freeloader" (on which Wynton Kelly plays piano) and the 10-bar, "A"-section-only form of "Blue In Green." In "All Blues," pay special attention to the harmonic treatment during the last eight bars of its 24-bar blues-waltz structure. You don't have to be a music student to recognize the unique magic or the mood-inducing power that pervades this album. With players of this caliber, the music making is magnificent and amazing. The talent and importance of these truly monumental musicians cannot be stressed enough. And, the importance of KIND OF BLUE as a record is deserving of all the hoopla that can possibly be mustered on its behalf. This is a legendary recording by a legendary band.
Another reason this album is historic is the introduction of what came to be known as "So What" chords. They are the chords that answer the melody line in "So What." Here are the two chords Bill Evans played there:
E below middle C, up a fourth to A, up a fourth to D, up a fourth to G and up a major third to B.
D below middle C, up a fourth to G, up a fourth to C, up a fourth to F and up a major third to A.
If you're so inclined, try playing those two chords to answer the melody and you will hear the heady magic they produce. To use this chord elsewhere, just remember it's the root, eleventh, seventh, third and fifth of a minor seventh chord.
on May 26, 2009
I won't comment on the music on this CD as that has been covered so many times before, but the unbelievable accuracy and imaging of this recording spurred me to review the recording/remastering quality. With eyes closed, you can hear exactly where Miles Davis is sitting as well as every other instrument's location. I find it nearly impossible to believe that these are recordings from 1959 since the fidelity is so great. It has been a true pleasure rediscovering this album in such crisp detail. I do have to pass along a friend's comment, "Ahh, there's our old friend --- hiss!" Yes, it's there, but I have to agree with him that it's nice to hear it again after digital recording has nearly eliminated it from contemporary recordings. Having recently upgraded my stereo, I have been on a CD buying binge, and this is one of my very favorites to play for myself, friends and family. Two final words: "buy it."
on August 22, 2001
First, please take as read another rave review of this amazing album. It is one of the few celebrated works of art that lives up to the hype and then goes a few steps beyond. This was the first jazz album I listened to, and I only wish I'd had a bit of advice as to what to listen to next - I thought just buying a few other Miles' albums and a few of Coltrane's would do, but this proved a bit tough, given the huge range of styles covered - in fact, this approach probably slowed my appreciation of jazz - for me at least it was just too difficult to assimilate the divergence from the sound presented on 'Kind of Blue' - even 'Sketches of Spain', recorded not long after, is a completely different soundscape. So here, with the benefit of initial years of pain, suffering, bewilderment, and, ultimately, yet more years of joy and ecstatic immersion, are a few recommendations as to what to try next - 'Somethin' Else', Cannonball Adderley; 'Saxophone Colossus', Sonny Rollins; 'Ella and Louis Again', Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong; 'My Favorite Things', John Coltrane; 'Ahmad's Blues', Ahmad Jamal; 'Search for the New Land', Lee Morgan; 'Let Freedom Ring', Jackie McLean; 'Whistle Stop', Kenny Dorham; 'Live at the Blue Note' (Disc III) Keith Jarrett - I think these albums, some more than others, move in the same musical world as 'Kind of Blue' and should be accessible (which is not to say that any album recreates the unique mood captured on this masterpiece (oops, I'm raving))...oh, and if you're interested, what did I in fact buy next? : 'The Major Works of John Coltrane', and 'Miles Smiles' - great albums, but a bit of a jump (i.e. across the Grand Canyon).
on January 23, 1999
Jazz historians know this date: April 22, 1959, the date on which Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, and James Cobb recorded the watershed "Kind of Blue" album. That this CD represents yet another re-issue of this landmark recording is appropriate at a time when renewed interest in jazz is especially keen. There are, of course, many fans who never left this uniquely American art form. Yet, as Rock N' Roll and the subsequent British Invansion swept up the counter-culture that birthed modern jazz in its inception, jazz very nearly lost its pre-imminent voice among that larger audience. It is not just that the technical problems which beset earlier releases of "Kind of Blue" have been admirably solved and addressed in this CD, it is a recording to "come back" to. As in live sessions and in the original recording sessions, Miles' phrasing is full-throated (not tinny or off-key) and spontaneously brilliant in the absolute richness of the musical ideas they represent. Likewise, witness Coltrane and Adderly who dazzle with seemingly infinite improvisational motifs seamless in their gestaltic wholeness. Then there is Bill Evans; what can be said of such genius and vituosity that his notes are precisely "right" yet never fail to delight or surprise? If you are one of those who momentarily left jazz, "Come back" to this CD. Listen yet again for the first time. At a time when Rock is sounding tired and long in the tooth, Miles and crew have never sounded fresher or newer.
on September 30, 2008
Most people know what is included in this box set so I won't get into details on that. The hardback book is great, the six 8x10 photos are nice, and the blue vinyl is outstanding!
So why two stars?
Both cds and the dvd are scratched beyond belief because of the horrible packaging. The record and discs are both held in the record gatefold. Opening the gatefold, the inside left side is designed like the back of the record jacket and the record is held in that side of the gatefold. On the right hand inside are three slits in the cardboard that hold the discs. The bottom half of the discs slide into the cardboard while the top half is exposed. I cringed when I saw this. Taking all three discs out as carefully as I could, all three have deep scratches on them. To get discs in this quality from a brand new $75+ set is not right. No care was taken into protecting these discs at all.
This is probably going to be a common problem so I hope Sony will give out replacement discs but you'll still have to keep them in seperate jewel cases if you want to keep them protected from damage.
on December 7, 2002
If there's one jazz album in the world that doesn't need my two cents worth, it's Kind Of Blue. But I thought I'd throw in an interesting bit of info for the musicians out there. For twenty-five years, I struggled to retune my guitar to play along with the original vinyl issue of KOB, trying to pick up the the great modal scales and sequences used by Davis, Adderly, Coltrane, Chambers, and Evans. A major pain, as any musician who's tried to do the same will testify, due to the fact that even though Miles wrote and the group performed, for example, "So What" using the basic chords/keys of D-minor 7th and E-flat-minor 7th, the album, when played on a stereo, came out largely in the keys of D-minor 7th + 5/8ths and E-flat-minor 7th + 3/5ths, or some such incomprehensible bizarrity. This out-of-tuneness, it turns out, was due to a mixing error back in 1959 that SPED THE MASTER TAPE UP--changing the pitch. And I blamed my turntable and tape deck all those years. To the point: this reissue, with an alternate take of "Flamenco Sketches" included, has been remastered at the proper speed, so that the key of D-minor actually sounds like--ta dahhh!--D-MINOR! So, thanks to the engineers who remastered this classic, and to all those musicians out there who thought they had suddenly developed a tin ear when listening to Kind Of Blue . . . you didn't.