viernes, 28 de noviembre de 2008

Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue (1959)

01. So What
02. Freddie Freeloader
03. Blue in Green
04. All Blues
05. Flamenco Sketches (toma n02)
06. Flamenco Sketches (toma n01)

Miles Davis - trompeta, líder
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley - saxo alto, excepto en “Blue in Green”
John Coltrane - saxo tenor
Wynton Kelly - piano, únicamente en “Freddie Freeloader”
Bill Evans - piano, notas lineales
Paul Chambers - bajo
Jimmy Cobb - batería


"Everybody Digs Bill Evans was well-received by the critics. “Some of the most private and emotionally naked music that I ever heard,” as described by critic Martin Williams.

Gene Lees, then-director of the magazine Down Beat, remembers being so struck by that album that he listened to it over and over for hours, completely enchanted by the emotional content of the music. Lees was so moved that he wrote Evans a simple fan letter, in which he called his music “Love letters written to the world from some prison of the heart. Such an artistic sensitivity so clearly manifest in music could only belong to a someone whose life “must be extraordinarily painful.” The work and faith that Keepnews had invested began to bear fruit. Lees decided to dedicate the cover of his influential magazine to Evans, along with an article and interview with the artist.

Notwithstanding Evans' reluctance to accept himself, his name began to spread and people began to recognize and appreciate his talent. He recorded with Chet Baker at the end of 1958, and at the beginning of the following year he recorded a few trio pieces with Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers. He wasn’t happy with these pieces though, and made Keepnews promise that they would not be published. A promise that they decided not to keep after listening to them again years later since the music didn’t sound so bad after all. This constant severity with himself would follow Bill throughout his musical career.

After recording an album with Bill Potts' orchestra, on which Evans first met a piece that became one of his favorites, I Loves You Porgy (the album offers an overview of the most memorable hits from the musical "Porgy And Bess"), it was in March of 1959 that he arrived at another key moment in his artistic life.
Even though he was no longer part of the group, Miles Davis called him to record an album, that very quickly would prove to be one of the all-time masterpieces of jazz. Destined to become a cult album for the most informed of jazz fans, it was, and still is, also able to attract an audience usually drawn to other forms of music. Kind Of Blue [CL1355; CK64935] was recorded in two sessions, one on March 2nd and the other on April 22nd [1959]. Evans played on four selections, two per session: So What and Blue in Green for the first, and Flamenco Sketches and All Blues for the second. It was Evans who wrote the album’s liner notes, and it is very interesting to read with what penetrating clarity he analyzes the process of improvisation.

Taking Japanese painting as a model, he observes that

“these artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.” Further on he adds: “this conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflection, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique discipline of the jazz or improvising musician.”
'Discipline' is a term to which Evans would often refer in order to clear up the common understanding of improvisation as a sort of game where "anything goes". He consistently repeated that the opposite was true, that freedom in music only makes sense when there is a solid foundation; otherwise you get lost in arbitrary disorder and reduce the aesthetic value of a piece.

For the most part extraneous to any type of avant-garde movement, Evans was sometimes involved in spite of himself - one could say "forced" in some cases - in performances in which there was no pre-planned referential structure (in particular with George Russell). He was never convinced of the validity of free forms: “l really believe in the language of the popular idiom, the song... I'd rather deal with that than play anything merely arbitrary such as playing without chords, bar lines or form.”

That avant-garde music that had found in Ornette Coleman its most audacious and innovative champion (his Something Else!!!! had been released the previous year) was not enough to satisfy Evans' need for “something that offers a wider scope emotionally to express myself in.” In contrast with Evans' credo, the ingenious saxophonist believed that “playing popular tunes has got to hold you back, because you are not playing all your own music.”

There was no preview of the scores for the musicians involved in the recording of Kind Of Blue. Miles “demanded a lot of spontaneity in this work from them,” as he explains in his autobiography, immediately afterwards getting a little peeved if anyone insinuated that Evans had somehow collaborated on the composition of the music on "Kind Of Blue" [emphasis mine]. In any case, the Evans stamp is unquestionably there, and Davis had to admit that “Bill was the kind of player that when you played with him, if he started something ... he would take it a little bit farther.”
This album represents a unique moment of convergence in the artistic paths of these two artists - a bit like one of those intersecting of orbits, that kind of extraordinary astronomic event that happens only once every several hundred years. Evans' piano work had by now achieved the maximum in evocative refinement, the tone of his chords had all but dematerialized; it seemed to speak of far-off abstract things while, nevertheless, maintaining a kind of subterranean tension and a sense of restless expectation.

Music historian Wilfrid Mellers picked up on a Debussy-like character in the introduction to So What and throughout the album, noting with insight that, notwithstanding its minimal preparation, one has the impression “of an extremely organized composition, partly because the fundamental material - the melodic phrasing, the chord changes - is very simple,” (the compositional character of this famous fascinating introduction, is also proved by the fact that Gil Evans transcribed it for an arrangement of his own).

However, it is Miles himself who provides the most stimulating key to the nocturnal, dreamy atmosphere of this masterpiece when he recalls that “seeing as how we had liked Ravel very much, especially his Concerto For The Left Hand and Rachmaninov's Concerto no. 4, there was some of that stuff somewhere in what we played.” Kind Of Blue, in fact, represented a meeting point between jazz improvisation and some significant harmonic and colorist aspects reflecting the typical French flavor of Impressionist and post-Impressionistic music. The mix was surely not pre-planned, but Evans seems to have acted as a catalyst, capable of "drawing" the whole group towards mysterious places of silence. It could be said that "Kind Of Blue" is, in a certain sense, an album of pauses, of suspensions, where the most beautiful pauses are inevitably "played" by the pianist himself [emphasis mine].

Jazz critic Art Lange observed that Evans' time with Davis - little more than one year, counting Kind Of Blue recorded outside the concert phase, was a decisive moment of passage. His rapport with the audience served him well and, at the same time, he revealed to Miles the possibility of new musical directions."

(Bill Evans: Ritratto d’artista con pianoforte/Bill Evans: The Pianist as an Artist.Enrico Pieranunzi, Rome 1999, Stampa Alternativa)(thanks !!!)

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Javiikiller dijo...

Thanks a lot! :D

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