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Reviews: Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

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Reviews: 23
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Review by Marc P March 1, 2003 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Not much to say about this album except that it's great. A must have Jazz title, not just of its historical importance, but also for its great music, and great sound.

Sounds much better than the Mastersound Gold version.

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Review by JW June 29, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I can understand why Marc in his review below says that there is not much to say about this album, I mean where do you start! But it made me smile since this is probably the most talked/written about Jazz album in history. And if you had to explain what jazz is to an alien I guess you should play him/her/it this album. It has all the jazz artifacts, from slow ballads, great bass lines, nice brassy solo's and soulful and swinging piano. The overall feeling of this album is fairly easy going. It's accesssible and does not have the improvisational aspects of later Miles albums.

Wait a minute, I can already hear the hissing in the audience of connoisseurs, isn't the entire album an improvisation? Miles pointed in the direction of a tune and the band just picked it up and worked it out. This is true, more or less. What I meant was that it's not 'freebop' where everyone sort of does his own thing and the songs are barely recognisable. It's also not jazz-fusion. It's melodic and traditional jazz, executed at an insanely high level.

Having said all that, how good is KOB really? Is it that much better than "Nefertiti" or "My Funny Valentine" or Ray Brown's "Soular Energy" or Art Peppers "Meet The Rhythm Section" or other similarly great jazz albums? Well, I would say that it is not, but that cannot be the whole story. It depends in what light you analyse the album. As a musician you may be awed by the notes that are played or not played or how the interplay between the band members is constructed and how modal music influenced the solo's. I think we also have to understand the quality of KOB in the light of its time (1959). I am probably correct in saying that it coincided with the invention of 'cool jazz', and perhaps it is credited with its 'invention'. This is probably a jazz historian's perspective, but important in how folks assess KOB. The fact is that all of these aspects surround the album and they have created a momentum that has served it well. And then there are the reviews by the opinion makers. We have all read the reviewers mention that "your music collection is not complete without..." etc. I bet many people bought it because of this. Anyway, books have been written on this thing, but I just thought I'd share a perspective on this fantastic record instead of just saying it's great and you got to have it :-)

A few words on the sonics. The recording level is fairly low so you have to turn up the volume knob a notch, but the sound quality is great. There have been some reports from folks who questioned the sound quality of this SACD, but I don't not know what they are talking about. And I listened to it with a high-end headphone set (HD-600, Corda HA-2, Cardas) so I can hear a lot. I can only guess that they were referring to the fact that it was not as closely mic'ed as some other Miles Davis albums.

A standard.

Jw

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Review by jimmyjames8 July 23, 2003 (0 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This review is based on the original 2ch SACD. While this is a landmark recording of timeless music, it doesn't demonstrate the depth and resolution of SACD like it should. There are glitches and distortions here that do not show up on my Sony Gold SBM longbox disc. I was disappointed with my copy of KOB on SACD. I know other SACDers are not. In my opinion Time Out sounds much better. The newer MCH SACD may sound different and hopefully better. Still a classic.

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Review by tonymn July 25, 2003 (0 of 12 found this review helpful)
What's with Miles Davis anyway? The minute the SACD platform hit, I think it was said, "I see income potential here". Let's put out every cd this guy ever did and get people to buy them all over again.

Honestly, I have no idea if he's dead or alive. All I know is that greed is the thing.

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Review by FivePointOne September 22, 2003 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This review concerns the MCH 5.1. The sound is wonderful. Get it.

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Review by willyevans October 18, 2003 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This classic session sounds wonderful on the multi-channel SACD. The depth and separation are wonderful. There is greater clarity in the horns. Paul Chambers' bass sounds fantastic. I can hear things on this SACD that I never noticed on the late 90s Sony version of the CD or the gold CD. The stereo layer is also better than the others as far as sound quality goes.

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Review by mukkachukka January 16, 2005 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
There's a reason why many people consider this the greatest jazz album ever made. Look at the lineup for cryin' out loud!: Miles, Coltrane, Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly. Plus the modal compositions and improvisations are some of the best you will ever hear. Many of the greatest jazz and rock (insert Allman Brothers here) artists of all-time cite this as their favorite album. And now you can hear it in multi-channel SACD! I think that the sonics on this SACD are fantastic. Nice 5.1, nothing flashy with the surrounds as to not take away from the majesty of the music. Just a really great mix. I think you can pick this up at the Sony Online Store for about $11. Not a better penny spent...

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Review by nickc March 1, 2005 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Now I can officially say that I have wasted the first 35 years of my life having never listened to this disc until a week ago - but as they say better late than never! This music is as beautiful and profound as a Beethoven string quartet slow movement or a Mahler adagio (though on a slightly smaller scale!)
Listening to saxophones used to remind me of elevators or cheesy bars: how wrong could I have been. When I used to think of trumpets I would think of Tchaikovsky in full flight - i had never imagined a sound like Miles Davis produces. The tracks are predominantly slow and moody, the disc finishing off with two alternate takes of "Flamenco Sketches" that I wished had gone for another ten minutes!
Being a classically trained pianist I am amazed that this whole disc is essentially improvised (within certain parameters).
The sound is excellent for 1959 -though the brass are much clearer than the piano.

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Review by azure March 10, 2005 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I can understand tonymn's remarks. . .there have been many many reissues of this classic jazz album. It was not until the 1992 Mastersound SBM "Gold" CDs they got the timing of the tracks on side 2 corrrect . . . then in 1999 they included the alternate take of . "Flamenco Sketches" first on CD than SA-CD the latest reissues include a multichannel programme.
I only have the Stereo SACD -which was frist released -but for me it is the best reissue so far

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Review by graforlok April 17, 2005 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is simply the best jazz album ever created by a human being. If you already have the LP version, this new edition on SACD will be an excellent upgrade for you. The music scores are out of this world, and the overall sound ballance was done at a very high level of quality, despite the use of 2 new extra channels. This SACD is a must in the collection of any audiophile.

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Review by sacd1 January 7, 2006 (0 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
miles davis what a classic jazz.

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Review by djcowboy January 25, 2006 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This album has been in the Top 20 (Jazz Albums) since it's intro over 40 years ago...that should say it all until, you get into the history, re-masters, books and now SACD...This is a sonic masterpiece considering the time and equipment used...the multi-channel layer is tasteful and adds the right amount of fullness without taking away from the originals' overall "feel" or sonic value. I have a version of one of the tracks on a sampler and it is even better than this...what gives??? why is the Japanese version from Sony better than the American version from the same company...I do believe it is a must have because it shows that good Jazz does not have to be an aquired taste and you don't always have to listen to the "Great" recordings a few times to get it...the SACD format makes this just a little easier to listen than the Redbook version...I have a Standard Redbook version and the Remastered 20-Bit version...The Redbook version is not that bad until you hear the 20-bit version...The 20-bit version is more open with better detail/ extension...there is better spacing around the instruments...listen for the slight rasp from Miles horn and you will understand...Coltrane on the beginning of "So What" has the same rasp going on...Well guess what, when you hear the SACD version just think more of everything...more there...more space...more detail... more air...more detail...without the digital edge we have come to asssociate when more is added to the digital equation..overall job well done...subtle but effective.

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Review by krisjan January 27, 2006 (6 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
After reading the recent S-phile article on this recording, I took it off the shelf to listen again after not hearing it for a couple of years. First off, there is no such thing as a natural sound stage for this recording since the musicians were recorded close up and then panned in the original three-channel mix to create a desired listening experience. So please don't tell me what great sound stage this recording has. The music is interesting and extremely well performed. Of all the instruments, the brass have a beautifully realistic timbre. Davis' trumpet, and Adderly's and Coltrane's saxophones sound terrific. When I hear this kind of result from sessions in 1959(!) I lament what has happened to recording technology in the intervening 4+ decades. Piano, bass and drums don't have the same sonic impact (but maybe that's the way the producer desired it to sound). Get this to hear what real brass sounds like!

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Review by audiofreak May 30, 2006 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Please note that there is a JSACD version on SME of this recording which sound MUCH better than the standard Columbia disc. I can't find it any more on SA-CD.net, but it should still be available out there on the net. Nothing to add regarding the performance - it is truly timeless.
Also check out "Someday my prince will come" which is avaliable from SME too...

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Review by hawk September 8, 2006 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Yes, this is a great great jazz album and accessible to anyone as a wonderful
piece of music. BUT having listened to both the regular CD I got
a few years ago and the SACD version, I really have to be honest and say
I expected a lot more from the multi-channel version; am I the only one who feels
this way? (sorry,I know this is not the forum).Perhaps the subtle treatment is
what most fans of this album like,however,personally I buy SACDs for the M/C
experience and I didn't find this to be all that satisfying in this album. If
you do not have this album, by all means I would recommend the SACD version-
I mean why not, you get more listening options for a little more money. But I
wouldn't expect much in terms of M/C performance.

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Review by Oakland September 8, 2006 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I found the multi-channel version of Kind of Blue to be superior to the two channel version. BUT not *necessarily* or only because of multi-channel. It just seems to be better mastered overall. But the multi-channel mix definitely helps a lot. Particularly, Paul Chambers on bass as well as Jimmy Cobb on drums benefits from the multi-channel mix. The center channel in particular really seems to help the Chambers presentation. The bass is anchored as it is not in the two channel version. The low end is present in all 5 speakers. In the two channel version I thought the bass was kind of weak. In fact, the two channel layer presents the weakest bass content out of all the "Kind of Blue" masterings I have heard. The multi-channel bring the bass back to par.

This is definitely a 5 channel mix. In "So What" the rears are almost reticent to a fault until the first sax. But the rears are never intrusive. That is, the rears are never heard from the listening position. In fact, I checked a couple of times to insure that they were even on, but on they were. Overall, while the new mix does not directly address the blatant hard left/right presentation that was popular in early stereo recordings, the presentation is more natural than you find in the two-channel version due to the ambience.

So, while I enjoy the presentation that the multi-channel offers with "Kind of Blue" I don't consider this the quintessential jazz multi-channel disc. From a multi-channel standpoint the Kimber Kable's Joe McQueen recording has that honor. See my comments at /showreviews/3957#3815


Robert C. Lang

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Review by becomingalive May 12, 2007 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I just got the multi-channel version and all I can say is - if your review is based on the stereo version then you need to listen to this!

"Kind of Blue" is not just a classic album, it's possibly THE classic jazz LP. I've got 2000 LP's, mostly jazz, and I'm just starting to get seriously into multichannel. Listen closely to the first track - the bass is a revelation, even to someone like me who already has two different LP versions (original and Japanese reissue) and the CD. The person who said the bass, piano, and drums aren't properly balanced compared to the brass needs to get some Q-Tips - or assistance to better set-up his electronics.

There is an intriguing difference between the two takes of "Flamenco Sketches" in terms of sonics. The original liner notes by Bill Evans are augmented by some wonderfully insightful comments by Robert Palmer, now essential for me. Small print is the only drawback to these notes.

If you don't have an SACD player yet, get one now and make "Kind of Blue" one of your initial disc purchases - you won't regret it regardless of your previous contact with jazz. I'm only buying DSD discs (and vinyl) after hearing this.

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Review by onenairb July 17, 2007 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Sonics:  
Having read so many people say such briliant things about this release curiosity got the better of me so I am only commenting on the SACD. Its excellent laid back jazz, no doubt, and I do enjoy listening to it.
As an SACD disk; well its excellent what the've done with a three track recording from 1959. Clear, crisp and subtle use of the rear channels.
My only complaint : Well this is (or feels like) a 5.0 and not a 5.1 recording as many seam to claim. The bass which appears most in the centre channel is somewhat lacking in depth. Its lovely but I wished the engineer had utilised the LFE channel with more effect and provided more depth to the bass.

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Review by analogue February 20, 2009 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
What does one say about the most famous jazz album ever recorded. Only that now it's released on sacd and sounds fantastic. There might not be a better jazz album in all the world that you can listen to in the dark with a set of head phones on. Yes there is a little bit of tape hiss here and there but there is also jazz music and musicality to rapture the senses. So much talent created the magic that is behind the music? hOW DID THEY DO IT??? Simply put it is the highest selling jazz album in history and continues to sell about 5 thousand more every year. Why??? Is it an accident....are people confused. Hell no!!! It's that good. It;s even hard to find words to use when I try to explain to someone what type of music it is or how it sounds..............what style???. Words cannot possible do it justice. I could rightfully point out that its rapturous and romantic...soft and relaxing...a little cool and rhythmic but these are mere words and cant possibly do justice or even come close to describing the feel of this masterpiece. How do you explains the tonal colours they conjure up like magicians.....the different moods in every song??? The pulse and beat???

How do you describe magic???

This sacd was transferred right from the original master tapes and it has the feel of the tape. Instruments can stand out in space particularly the two saxaphones by Coltrane and Adderley in all tracks. I;ll leave it at that. It is somewhat warm in feel and has a nice soundstage.

So.I'll simply leave it at that. I will describe this sacd and Kind Of Blue as MAGIC. Thats the only way to describe it.

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Review by gorbeast December 7, 2009 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This one is an SACD that cannot be missing from any collection. The music is wonderful, the production is fantastic and the surround mix is out of this world. It's not one of those 5.1 mixes that makes you get up and double check that the rear speakers are working. On most pieces, each instrument gets its dedicated channel or side of channels (left / right) with most of the percussion on the right side and all of the rest on the left and in the middle. To cut a long story short, drag 2 large couches inside the listening area of your surround system, call a few friends over, light the fireplace and pour your spirit of choice in fine glasses. It doesn't get better than this...

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Review by MileHighNative March 30, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I can't stop listening to this recording. I dont' have any older versions to compare it to, but I can't stop listening to this. I love both the multi channel and stereo versions for different reasons. This has become my SACD reference/Demo for guests. This album is creating the urge in me to have a duplicate SACD set up in my bedroom, al beit on a smaller scale. I bought my player over 4 years ago and it took me this long to realize this was the album it was meant for. Everyone has different musical tastes. But if you lean even slightly towards jazz appreciation and you want your SACDs system's potential to be seen, this very well could be for you.

Some purists, or those with a dear vinyl copy might be slightly dissapointed with a harmonic here or there. But that hardly matters.

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Review by Jijagua June 4, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I listened to the stereo layer on this CD and compared it with the Columbia Red Seal disk that I already owned. I couldn't distinguish the sound of the two from each other - identical I suppose. The instruments are precisely placed from left to right: piano on the left, sax's on both sides of the middle, drums off to the right. The bass seems to resonate from somewhere in the middle as does Miles' trumpet, but higher than the bass. I noticed a fair amount of tape hiss that seems to fade as the musicians go louder. The instruments are all well-defined, but there is a graininess to the sound, with splashy cymbals, and the sax's sometimes sound a bit rough around the edges. Considering it was from 1959, this recording is very good. Then I listened to the SACD layer.

The SACD layer is so silky compared to the stereo layer. Even the tape hiss is lessened and seems to be of a way finer grit than the stereo version. The instruments still appear exactly as before, from left to right, but now they have much more depth. The sax's still have a slightly rough edge sometimes and, because I am not a musician, I can't be certain that they don't really sound that way. Somehow, the sax's seem added in after the fact. However, when the band gets going in full jam mode, every instrument seems squeaky clean, with all of the graininess of the original recording gone. The difference between this layer and the stereo is really night and day.

I've made no attempt at describing the performance because I am assuming that everyone knows this recording very well. It's THE recording to have if you only buy one jazz disk in your life. I'd call it something like a smooth jazz, but I know it's supposed to be referred to as cool jazz. Anyways, suffice to say that I think the players are perfectly matched and it's amazing how they take queues from each other to make a recording that seems rehearsed - that's how good this jazz is.

One note: I don't see ebay listed as a place to buy this CD, but it can be had for under $40 new (including shipping) if you look for it there.

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Review by pvcmusiclover April 11, 2012
Performance:   Sonics:  
This recording exhibits a full dynamic range, as compared to the slightly brickwalled one on my 2006 CD issue. Next, the EQ seems somewhat neutral,as opposed to the rather treble intense CD version. A little bit veiled, though.

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