In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, I’ll be posting a jazz song of the day each day in April. Some of these songs you’ll be very familiar with; some may be new to you. This is a completely subjective list of some of my favorites, and I’m sure your list would have some overlap and some differences. That’s one great thing about jazz: there’s something for everyone!
We’ll start our jazz listening today with a song from the bestselling album of all time, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” This album was recorded in 1959 and has gone on to sell more copies than any other jazz album in history. It is still on the list of the 100 top-selling albums almost every year, and has even been recognized by the U.S. Congress as a national treasure. It is held in high regard for the group interplay and for the use of what is now called “modal jazz” (if you want to geek out, more on that here).
This song, called “So What,” is one of the most recognizable jazz songs around the world. It features Miles Davis on trumpet, John Coltrane on tenor sax, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums.
I love the way each soloist approaches the tune, which has a very simple chord progression, consisting of just two chords throughout the whole piece. Miles uses lots of space and longer notes, Coltrane plays flurries of notes, and Cannonball employs his signature bluesy licks. It’s a great study in personal style within a group context.