Proud Papa

So I’m driving in the car the other day with my two girls (ages 6 and 9) and “Fade to Black” comes on the radio. So naturally I crank it up. A few seconds go by, and my oldest pipes up and says, “Hey Dad, this sounds like Metallica.” I am gobsmacked, of course, and I ask how on earth  she knew that. She replies, “I could just tell by the sound of the guitars.”



Great Performances: Joe Walsh Plays “Desperado” on Howard Stern Show

I’ve been a fan of Howard Stern’s radio show for many many years. The show certainly has a huge number of memorable moments. However my favorite moment is one most people probably won’t remember at all.

It was back in the K-ROCK days, before satellite, during one of the F-Emmy awards shows. The award was for Best Musical Performance, and Howard was playing clips of the nominees. When Howard played a clip of Alanis Morisette (I forget what song it was for), he was silent for a brief moment, and then said “Dammit, I love musicians. Music is the only thing that stirs any emotion in my soul anymore.” He said this loudly, passionately, and for the most miniscule moment you could almost hear his voice crack with emotion. And then his tone changed slightly, veering off to a self-mocking tone that seemed to attempt to mask what a true statement it was.

Maybe it’s Stern’s almost Svengali-like ability to pull such great performances out of the artists; maybe it’s simply the fact that he’s been on the air for so long that he’s bound to collect a number of great performances over so many years. Whatever it is, there is no denying that Stern has in his collection an incredible array of stellar musical performances.

While there are many to choose from (the Alanis performance was indeed fantastic, and fans picked Dave Grohl’s performance of Everlong as the best), for me the best of the best is Joe Walsh’s performance of the Eagles tune “Desperado”. There’s a long story behind the performance, which I’ll try to relate here, but I may be missing some details. Hopefully someone out there can fill in if I miss anything.

This was back in 1989 or 1990. Walsh was on the show when Stern asked him to play something. Walsh had no guitars, just a crappy Casio keyboard that was hanging around the studio. He set it up and started playing, and turned out the best rendition of the song I’ve ever heard.

Now apparently, at the time the Eagles were just beginning discussions about reuniting for the first time since they broke up in 1980. And apparently Don Henley, who wrote the song (Glen Frey co-wrote some of it), is (or was) very sensitive about other people performing this song. So when Walsh left the show that day, it seems he had a change of heart about playing the song, and tried desperately to get Gary Dell’Abate (the show’s producer) on the phone to pull it from the air.

Unfortunately for him, Gary had already left for vacation for the weekend, and Walsh left several increasingly violent and angry messages on Gary’s phone. So the song aired, and of course Henley heard it and exploded. Shortly after, the reunion was off, and it was not until 4 years later that they reconciled long enough to do the Hell Freezes Over tour.

Now, there’s some confusion on my part on one point. There are actually two performances of Walsh singing “Desperado” on Stern’s show – one solo, and one with Sam Kinison on guitar. Now, I believe the incident with Henley was over the version with Kinison, which aired on Stern’s infamous Channel 9 show. However the version I’m referring to as the best ever was the solo version. Unfortunately Kinison just ruined the other version with his unending, meandering guitar lines. I love Sam as a comedian, but he was not a musician. Anyway, I am not clear on when the two performances took place. I know the Kinison version was around 1990, but I’m foggy on when the solo version happened. I think it was a little earlier than that, but I’m not sure. Hopefully someone can shed some light out there.

So enough of the drama and back to the performance. What makes this one so special? Well for me it was an eye-opener. Truth be told I was never really a fan of Joe Walsh. I had always heard his name mentioned among the periphery of great guitar players, but I never understood why. He always seemed like a decent guitarist, but nothing special. I thought he was more of a spectacle sideshow for the Eagles rather than a true musician.

To begin with, “Desperado” is a great song. It’s a timeless melody with evocative lyrics of loneliness, sadness, pain, and a little hope.  The stark instrumentation of Walsh’s version – just a keyboard – provides an intimacy that matches the song perfectly. The cheap organ sound also lends an almost plaintive, gospel/spiritual tone to the overall sound.

But the thing that makes the performance special is Walsh’s voice. On his solo records, his voice always sounded like a whiny drawl to me. Not a pleasant sound. Here, however, his voice is gravelly and nuanced. The original recording of the song sounds far too polished by comparison. In Walsh’s voice you can hear the late nights, the booze, the depression and sadness that embody the song.

While it’s a shame that this performance caused Joe Walsh so much anguish, I’m glad it happened. I will forever be grateful that he did it, and that I was able to hear it. I sincerely hope that this performance, and the other great performances from the Stern show, will be available in some form for all to hear for a long time.

Great Solos: Unit 7

Song: Unit 7

Solo Performed By: Wes Montgomery

Album: Smokin’ at the Half Note


I’ve wanted to write about this solo for a long time.

Everything I’ve ever heard or read about Smokin’ at the Half Note mentions any number of the following things: the excitement of two titans coming together in a live gig, the exceptional rhythm section of Miles Davis alums, the epic solos on the tune “No Blues” (clocking in around 13 minutes), the beautiful ballads. But I never heard anyone talk about “Unit 7”. It was as if it didn’t exist. Which boggled my mind, because since the first time I heard it I’ve considered it my favorite Wes solo ever, and one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.

The song itself is basically a 12-bar blues with a bridge. The bridge is fairly simple, winding through a few II-V progressions on its way back to the blues section, but it is different enough to provide the soloists a little harmonic interest to work with. In fact it is this bridge section that, in my opinion, serves to elevate this tune above the others on the album. Without the bridge, you’ve got just another blues, and it’s pretty damn hard to beat “No Blues” in that department. But the addition of the bridge provides Wes with the platform to showcase his two best qualities as a musician: (1) his soulful blues playing (over the blues sections), and (2) his melodicism (over the bridge sections).

The solo follows Wes’ favored solo structure of single note lines, followed by octave lines, followed by block chords. After a nice piano solo by Wynton Kelly, Wes comes in around the 2:30 mark with a classic blues lick, and the first thing you notice is his tone. Big, full and round, and surprisingly present.

The next thing you notice is Wes’ patience. I once read a quote about Wes from Lenny Tristano (as told to Joe Satriani): “You know, Wes never played a wrong note. He never played an extra note, he never left one out”. Listen to these single note lines, and he always sounds completely relaxed, and never overplays.

There is a quality that the best players have that is hard to put into words, but you know it when you hear it. It’s a quality of being in complete control of their instrument. It’s not so much in the notes they choose (which are usually great), but the quality of the sound, the tone, the command you hear in their fingers. You can hear that their instrument is a part of them, that it’s some kind of wild thing that they have not only tamed but mastered. Stevie Ray Vaughan immediately comes to mind when I think about this quality. John Coltrane had it too. And Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Kenny Burrell, Jeff Beck, Michael Brecker, George Benson, Clifford Brown, Joe Satriani, Pat Metheny…you get the idea. Wes had that quality in everything he did, and it is on full display here.

Over the first bridge (at about 2:56) Wes plays a really nice counterpoint line, keeping a sort of pedal tone in the upper register while he subtly moves the lower notes around. It’s a beautiful example of his melodic sense – where most players see a II-V progression and jump all over it, blowing a million notes per second or playing one of thousands of rote patterns, Wes plays a simple melody that just sings.

At about 3:18 Wes plays a really nice melodic quote from the Sonny Rollins tune “Pent-Up House”, made famous by Clifford Brown (another great solo, by the way). This kind of musical quoting – where a soloist will mimic a melodic line from another song or even another solo – is a long-standing tradition in jazz. Charlie Parker was the king of it.

When I listen to this solo, time and again the most prevalent thing I take away from it is movement. Try listening to the solo while keeping your body perfectly still. It’s impossible. Particularly the section starting around 3:42. It’s another bridge section (can you tell I’m a sucker for the melodic stuff?), and Wes falls into it by playing a beautiful cascade of notes. It’s really just a descending C major arpeggio, but he plays it by sliding up to each note, creating a sort of leaping-up-the-down-escalator sound, before landing solidly on the minor third (F) of the Dm7 chord that starts the bridge. Too much! But that’s just the beginning – he plays some more tasty lines in the bridge, and then at about 3:50, Wes plays my favorite lick of the solo, and one of my all time favorites. When you analyze it, it’s really a fairly basic turnaround lick, another set of II-Vs. But somehow it manages to sound so fresh and invigorating, mainly due to the interval leaps he makes, which recall Charlie Parker’s intervallic gymnastics (who in turn was influenced by Bach). This is one of those magical musical ideas that defies analysis – even though I have studied it and can even play it pretty well, I still shake my head in joy and wonder every time I hear it.

Wes ends his single note lines with, appropriately, a few blues licks, before moving into the octave section.

I’m not sure if Wes was the first guitarist to ever play solo lines in octaves (I doubt it, but it’s certainly possible), but he was far and away the master of it. Ever since, anyone who has ever played an octave line on guitar immediately invokes a comparison to Wes.

When a guitarist plays lines in octaves, their hand is essentially locked in a specific position, and the entire arm from fingertips to elbow must move as one in order to navigate the fretboard.  Now, Wes was by far the fastest octave player around, but even having said that, the technique still forces the player to forego any really complex lines in favor of more melodic ones – it’s a technique that actually takes “technique” out of the equation. Most techniques are developed in order to facilitate the playing of more complex musical ideas, sometimes to the detriment of the music itself, the melody. Playing in octaves achieves just the opposite; it’s a technique that actually hinders the playing of more complex ideas, therefore putting more focus on the music itself. It’s a brilliant concept when you analyze it, and it becomes even more brilliant when you take away the analysis and understand that that’s just the sound and the melodic lines that Wes was hearing in his head.

In Wes’ hands, the octave section provides not just a melodic boost, but also a rhythmic boost as well. The solo really picks up steam when Wes starts in with the octaves. Check out the line at 4:30 – it’s another escalator-type descending octave run leading into the bridge, and when you hear it you can feel it in your gut, pulling you back down to begin another ascent. This leads to an extraordinary section that builds the momentum even more with just a few simple syncopated lines (4:40-4:50).

Which leads us to the block chord section. Until I started to really study Wes, I was completely befuddled by block chord solos on guitar. I’d listen to Wes, and George Benson, and Joe Pass, and think, “How do they DO that? They must know every possible chord voicing known to man! If I practice for the rest of my life I’ll never learn all those chords.” Well I did try – I went so far as to purchase the classic book “Chord Chemistry” by Ted Greene, which takes a systematic approach to learning, well, every chord voicing known to man, many of them difficult or even impossible to play on guitar, unless you’re Allan Holdsworth. The book remains in pristine shape to this day – I barely cracked it open.

But once I started to actually listen and study Wes, I sort of got it – I couldn’t necessarily do it on guitar, but I could at least wrap my head around it. The thing is, Wes never played more than a dozen or so different chord voicings in his solos. That’s right – a dozen or so. No chord chemistry nonsense – just the basic forms in the higher registers, with a few variations thrown in for various extensions (9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc).

The block chord section is similar to the octave section, in that it is so rhythmic and it grooves so hard. Most of the “A” sections are dedicated to syncopated chord strumming, often on the same chords for long periods. Then the bridge sections are used for more complex chords and rhythms. For example, listen at around 5:15, just before the bridge – this follows a long string of very similar chords, with a common top note providing a sort of pedal or anchor. Then the bridge kicks in with another patented rapid-fire descending chord cascade before going back to the syncopated pedal chords.

The solo winds down and it’s back to the main melody and out. When the song is over, I always go back to the feeling of movement. I’m almost physically exhausted by the end of this solo.

Joe Satriani was once asked in an interview to name three of his musical heroes. Naturally his first hero was Jimi Hendrix. His second, Billy Gibbons, was a bit of a surprise but not a stretch. The third musician he mentioned was Wes Montgomery. I’ll close with this excerpt:

“When you sing one of his solos you feel like you’re in the presence of greatness. It’s like reading a poem that’s perfect and you just can’t believe someone came up with that combination of words that you use every day but just in a different order. And that’s kind of like what music is. We all have the same notes in our pocket, but the great ones pull out the right ones at the right time. Wes was one of those guys. He had the timing, the rhythm, the note selection, he had an incredible sense of melody and harmony, and he performed impeccably.”

Other writing on Wes Montgomery:

You can read the full Joe Satriani interview here.

You can read Pat Metheny’s fantastic liner notes to the Jazz Icons DVD featuring Wes here.

Great Songs: Hot for Teacher

Song: Hot for Teacher

Song performed by: Van Halen (Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Edward Van Halen)

Album: 1984

One night a while ago I was at a dinner party and I struck up a conversation with another guy there.

He was about my age, but unlike me was very clean cut, very well dressed. In our conversation I learned that he was a very high-ranking official in his church (for those playing at home, he was the Stake President of the local LDS – aka Mormon – church). I live in a fairly conservative area in Arizona, so this is not unusual. Basically any time I’m at a dinner party of some kind, I’m on my best behavior so as not to embarrass my wife or anyone else.

Anyway, he was a nice guy so we talked for a while. At one point we got on the topic of music. He asked what kind of music I liked, etc. At some point I told him I was a guitar player. Upon hearing that, he said “Oh, well, are you a Van Halen fan?”

I was a bit surprised at this, to say the least. Most Mormon church leaders I know (yes I do know a few) don’t listen to any music that is even remotely heavy, and if they do, they don’t talk about it at dinner parties.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Me too,” he said. Uh, what? Then he paused, and said, “You know, I wish I could listen to them more often, but I just can’t. I’m kind of a straight-laced guy, but when I hear Van Halen, it makes me crazy. It just does something to me. I can’t explain it. It’s something primal that I just can’t help.”

And that about sums it up. Van Halen really is a force of nature, and for me, the ultimate tour de force is “Hot for Teacher”. If this song doesn’t stir something in you, you may be dead. Built over a classic Van Halen groove – the hyperspeed shuffle – this song has a force and propulsion that just will not stop.

To begin with, “Hot for Teacher” has perhaps the most famous intro section of any rock song in history. It starts with Alex Van Halen’s extended drum solo. A classic double bass tour de force.

Now I’m no drumming expert, but I would venture to say that this intro is up there with “Wipeout”, “In the Air Tonight”, and “Moby Dick” as one of the most recognizable and beloved of all drum parts. The recording is actually somewhat controversial, but the consensus seems to be that Alex played most of the parts live in the studio, and overdubbed a few of the tom-tom and cymbal hits. I have no idea how he plays it live. I’ve seen Al play it, but it was hard to tell if he was doing all of it, or triggering some parts, or playing a very slightly modified version. The world may never know. And it doesn’t matter – the recording stands as an incredible achievement and one hell of a lead in to…

Perhaps my favorite guitar passage that Edward Van Halen has ever played, and that, my friends, is saying something. What can I say about this intro solo? It’s everything about EVH’s playing that I love all wrapped up into one intro. It’s in your face, fearless, and that TONE. The section is a rolling tapped arpeggio riff that moves like a rollercoaster up and down the guitar neck. And like any good rollercoaster, this one culminates in a precipitous drop – a rapid fire descending tapped lick set in Edward’s favorite Dorian/Blues scale hybrid (a Dorian scale, or mode to be technically correct, is a type of minor scale that Eddie has always favored, both for the sound and because it happens to lay fairly symmetrically across the guitar fingerboard, facilitating this type of tapping run and fitting nicely with his legato playing style).

And then there’s Dave. OK, let me get one thing out of the way right up front. I am not a Dave zealot, nor am I a Sammy zealot, nor am I a Gary zealot. I love this band – in every incarnation. Period. They have managed somehow to create insanely great music over 30 years, and each incarnation has produced classics. OK, maybe I’m going a little far with the Gary Cherone years, but you get the idea. Enough about that.

Back to Dave. Now, Dave is not a singer so much. He is a showman. An entertainer. I think Steve Vai said it best when comparing his tenures with Dave and Whitesnake: you won’t see David Lee Roth standing center stage hitting a high E and holding it for 30 seconds. And you won’t see David Coverdale doing a splits jump off the drum riser. Both are great – they’re just different.

This lyrics are pure essential David Lee Roth. Cocky, brash, sly, with a Cheshire Cat grin the whole time. Most of all they are just plain fun. “I think of all the education that I missed/But then my homework was never quite like this.” And then there’s the immortal “I don’t feel tardy.”

Michael Anthony of course had the thankless job of being the bass player in a band with Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth. Especially on a song like this, there’s just not much he could do to really stand out. Add to that the fact that he was pretty much buried in the mix throughout the Ted Templeman years (VH’s producer), and you have some grounds for contention. I’m not even going to go into the whole Wolfgang thing, but I will be writing more about Mike soon in another post. For now, though, suffice to say that he holds down the bottom end of this tune admirably, and provides his patented harmonies to the vocal chorus and pre-chorus. One of the nicest parts about this tune being recorded live (more on that below) is that you can actually hear Mike during the guitar solo. Check out his lines at around the 3:05 mark – he plays some really nice fifth and octave intervals that give the song a great sense of movement (yes, even more than it already had) before dropping back in the pocket for the rest of the tune.

The verse breaks are reminiscent of ZZ Top’s “La Grange”, but lighter and less swampy. Eddie skipped playing one of his usual Frankenstein Strats for this tune in favor of a Gibson Flying V, for two reasons: (1) it was the only guitar he could find that day that had dead strings on it, and (2) the dual pickup switch allowed him to switch seamlessly between the verse and chorus sections. The dead strings are something I’ve never heard from anyone other than Eddie. He has always sworn that dead strings sound better when recording than new strings do. Most guitarists love new strings for their bright sound, but obviously Ed knows what he’s doing.

In another classic VH move, the song was recorded essentially live, with Ed, Al, and Mike all playing live in the studio (the vocals were overdubbed later, as they always are). Eschewing overdubs, they played the whole song through – if someone messed up, they just ran through the whole song again. Want proof? Listen to the guitar solo – there’s no rhythm guitar underneath, just bass and drums. This I think is the key to the lifeforce evident in the song – you just can’t get that same raw power when everyone plays their parts separately.

Speaking of the guitar solo…it kicks off with a reprise of the descending tapping lick from the intro, and stays in the same F# minor tonality for the duration of the solo. The solo itself is kinda fascinating, because it contains little of the histrionics for which Eddie is famous – no tapping, no whammy bar madness. There’s barely a harmonic (tap or artificial) to be found. The song is going by at such a walloping speed that you hardly notice that Ed is essentially blowing straight up blues licks over the entire solo. It’s times like this that you remember Eddie’s guitar hero growing up was Eric Clapton. Think Crossroads-era Cream, put a manic shuffle underneath it, and bingo, you’ve got this solo. The Cream comparison is even more appropriate when you factor in the no-rhythm-guitar-underneath-the-solo aspect. It’s pretty much the ultimate power trio tune.

As I said earlier, Van Halen has produced so many classic songs that it’s hard to single out just one. And of course a bunch of them will eventually show up on this list (and the Great Albums list…and the Great Solos list…). But I had to cover “Hot for Teacher” first. It may not be the best song of the Dave era, but it’s up there. And above all else, well…I can’t explain it – it just does something to me.

Great Albums: Kind of Blue

Album: Kind of Blue

Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Cannonball Adderley (alto sax), Bill Evans (piano), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums)

Writing about the movie Casablanca, Uncle Roger once wrote: “It is *the* movie…Within its frames are so many of the many different and sometimes conflicting reasons why the movies are so special to us; Casablanca is popular art, and it is Art, as well.” The same sentiment could be applied to Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. It is *the* jazz album.

The influence that this album has had on popular music really can’t be overstated. Consider the musicians on the album. With the exception of Jimmy Cobb, who was a great solid drummer but not hugely influential in the drumming world, the musicians on this album have influenced an entire generation of musicians.

There is no trumpet player alive who has not been influenced by Miles Davis.

There is no alto player alive who has not been influenced by Cannonball Adderley.

There is no tenor player alive who has not been influenced by John Coltrane.

There is no piano player alive who has not been influenced by Bill Evans.

There is no bass player alive who has not been influenced by Paul Chambers.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say there is not a musician alive today who has not been influenced by the music on Kind of Blue.

Kind of Blue was the first real jazz album I ever heard. At the time I was a competent rock guitar player, and my instructor wanted me to expand my horizons a bit. It just so happened he was learning to play jazz, so he sort of brought me along and showed me some of the stuff he was learning. The first tune he played for me was All Blues. I remember thinking at the time how LONG it was…he recorded it on a cassette for me and it took FOREVER to finish recording. I took it home and listened to it. I didn’t understand any of it. I knew the chords, because he had showed me a basic way of playing it on guitar. I knew the Mixolydian mode, and I even knew how to play a dominant 7#9 chord thanks to Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. But I just didn’t get it.

Though I understand it now, Kind of Blue still has that same feeling of unattainability that it always had. It’s so effortless, so organic, it sounds as if it wasn’t an album that was set up and recorded in a studio by people over the course of several months – it seems as if it was just born, and blossomed into existence in one perfect moment.

So What starts the album. Miles’ solo on this tune is a classic, one of his best. He sits right in the pocket, never showing off or overplaying. It’s a deceptively simple solo – working out the lines on my guitar one day, I was surprised to find how complex Miles’ note choices are here.  Coltrane’s solo on this tune is a little more experimental, searching. Which makes sense; soon after this recording he would pen his own tune “Impressions” based on the exact same modal changes (D Dorian/Eb Dorian). The tune would go on to become a staple of his live sets for the rest of his life.

Freddie Freeloader, known simply as “Freddie” among musicians, is the only tune on the album to feature Wynton Kelly on piano. And Kelly shines on this tune. In his autobiography, Miles said of Kelly “he could play behind a soloist like a motherfucker”, and he proves it here. Listen to his comping behind Miles in particular – he is almost telepathic in his ability to fill in the spaces that Miles leaves. Kelly’s solo is also a gem, bluesy and complex at the same time. But it is Cannonball Adderley who owns this tune. His solo is simply one of the greatest solos of all time, a master class in melodicism and groove.

Quick side story: a friend of mine was hanging out at George Benson’s house when Benson got a call from Jon Hendricks, informing him that he would be singing Cannonball’s Freddie solo in the vocalese version on Jon Hendricks & Friends. Apparently Benson was more than a little nonplussed. He killed it though, of course. Benson is a badass. But I digress…

One more note on Freddie: listen to the monstrous moving bass line that Chambers plays under the head (the “head” is a jazz cat term for the main melody of a song). It is one of the busiest lines he plays, and it plays perfectly against the slower, longer notes of the melody. Once the solos kick in, he’s back to his propulsive swing.

Blue In Green is a tune with some controversy surrounding it. For years Miles claimed he wrote the tune, and he collected the publishing royalties for it. But everyone I’ve ever talked to about it is certain that Bill Evans wrote it. And with good reason – just listen to it. It’s a Bill Evans tune all the way. A few years after Miles died, his estate finally released the publishing rights to Bill Evans’ estate. Better late than never I guess.

Another side story: the same friend told me another story, also about GB. Seems GB walked into a club one night many years ago to see Bill Evans play. When Benson walked in, Evans was playing “Blue In Green”. GB looked around and saw Miles Davis in the crowd, and sat down next to him. Miles turned to him and said “how you like my tune I wrote?” GB replied, “Man, you didn’t write that tune.”

Evans’ compositions favored pensive moods, and Blue In Green may be the most pensive, melancholy tune ever written. It also contains the saddest note ever played: Miles plays it at around the 4:32 mark, and it just kills me every time I hear it.

I mentioned All Blues at the top of this essay. This was the tune that sort of started it all for me. At the time, all I knew about the blues was what I’d heard from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, and Albert King. But this was something completely different. It had the same chords, and the same notes, but they were put together in such a way that it was just so foreign. In many ways I still haven’t wrapped my head around it.

Cannonball’s solo is my favorite on this tune, I think. Which makes sense – he had the most bluesy feel of all the players, so this was right in his wheelhouse – same with Freddie. But my favorite moment of the tune is a note that Coltrane plays at about the 6:26 mark. Coltrane had a way of playing just one note and making it sound like his entire life force was pouring out of his horn. It seemed to happen most when he was playing a blues (the album Coltrane Plays the Blues has lots of examples).

Flamenco Sketches finishes up the album. Based on Evans’ Peace Piece, this tune was my favorite for a long time. It’s no secret I’m a sucker for a great melody, and this tune is just that – pure melody. Everyone kills it on this tune. It’s really tough to pick a favorite solo, but if pressed I’d probably say Evans’ because it is so brilliant in its simplicity.

What fascinates me most about this album is something Miles stated in his autobiography. He said that when he conceived of Kind of Blue, he was going for a very specific kind of sound. I can’t recall the album that inspired him (I can’t find my damn copy of the book), but I do recall that in the end, when Kind of Blue had been recorded and all was finished, he felt that he had missed the mark. Not that it wasn’t a successful album, or that he didn’t like it – he did – but that he missed his target with it. In the course of recording it became something different from what he was originally going for. I would love to have heard what was in his head, but I am eternally grateful for what was recorded.

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