The Blue Moment

Kind of Blue, however, was something different. It may have taken much of it’s shape spontaneously in the studio, but the outline of that shape was the result of a premeditation that continues to reverberate in the responses of those in whose lives it occupies a special place.

‘So What’ is as energetic as Kind of Blue gets, and it’s air of restraint conditions the listener for the remainder of an album in which voices are never raised and the impact is created by deep emotions expressed within a framework of freedom and self-discipline. In that way, perhaps it speaks to some profound ideal of the human condition.

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‘Freddie Freeloader’ named after a well-known Philadelphia character who liked to hang around the band when they were in town, the tune is a hipster’s anthem: a cool, finger-snapping twelve bar piece, it’s two-note main motif transposed up and down according to the movement of the chords, so spare and epigrammatic in construction that Kelly is given ample space in which to insert a commentary from the sidelines before setting off on his own delightful solo, which he builds to a light-hearted version of the sort of block-chord climax associated with Red Garland.

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Played at a dead-slow tempo, the original version of ‘Blue in Green’ is a crystalline realisation of all the melancholy implicit in Davis’s playing. Employing the tight, buzzing sound of a Harmon mute sans plunger, he appears to be revisiting the modus operandi of the Louis Malle soundtrack in order to create a piece of music existing only in it’s own moment, it’s own light, it’s own emotional space.

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‘All Blues’ - Paul Chambers responds to Davis’s demand for him to maintain an almost unvarying ground bass figure - while Jimmy Cobb swishes his brushes under the theme. Eased out by Davis’s muted trumpet, this is a line of breathtaking simplicity delivered with such exquisite timing that it seems to be floating on a cushion of air.

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‘Flamenco Sketches’ - So powerful is the impact of Davis’s solo that the eight second hiatus between the end of his improvisation and the start of Coltrane’s is one of the most powerful anticipatory spaces in jazz, the rhythm section discreetly treading water before the tenor saxophonist, reverting to the first of the scales, enters for the start of an improvisation that matches the leader’s for the patience of its pacing and even outdoes it in fidelity to the subtext of the harmonic material.

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All words taken from ‘The Blue Moment’ by Richard Williams

daniel davidson