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Rock Hall Anniversary: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue

Perhaps one if not the influential jazz album of all time reaches its 55th year.

It was in August 1959 that Miles Davis released the album Kind of Blue. Produced by Teo Macero and Irving Townshend, it would be deemed the album that would have a enormous influence not only in jazz, not only classical, but in the world of rock. In fact, on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the album ranked two positions shy of the top ten. And then there were the commercial aspect. Though the album only appeared on the jazz charts long after it’s released (1977 and 1987 respectively), it proved to be a big seller, going on to sell over four million copies worldwide by 2008.

At the time Davis started work on Kind of Blue, bebop was one of the popular sub-genres of jazz of the time. But Davis chose to pursue a style that would be known as modal jazz, one that used musical modes for a musical framework. And with that, the album’s personnel featured some the most notable jazz musicians of the time including John Cotrane, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans. The five-track suite included classics such as “So What”, “Blue in Green” and “All Blues”.

Kind of Blue was widely acclaimed upon release, and along being one of the top twenty greatest albums of all time (according to Rolling Stone), the acclaim continued on to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, deemed a “national treasure” by the U.S. House of Representatives, and considered one of the 1001 albums that must be heard before one’s passing.

But most importantly, it went on to influence jazz musicians including Cotrane, Quincy Jones, Ornette Coleman and Wayne Shorter. But it also influenced rock acts including the Allman Brothers Band and Pink Floyd. In 2008, a collector’s edition was released featuring the original album, as well as their alternative takes and studio sequences, and bonus tracks including “On Green Dophin Street” and “Love for Sale”.

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