At this point the importance of Miles Davis groundbreaking work on his 1959 release Kind of Blue is well-established. Recorded over two dates in 1959 (March 2nd and April 22nd at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio) and featuring the legendary “First Sextet” lineup of Davis, Julian Adderley, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly/Bill Evans (Kelly was on “Freddie Freeloader”), Paul Chambers and James Cobb. This is the band that Davis started his experimentation with modal jazz and the move away from his hard bop style. Though Kind of Blue is heralded as the pinnacle of modal style, Davis had already been working with it on his 1958 release Milestones, suggesting that Coltrane was the catalyst of this move.
Kind of Blue stands head and shoulders above many other jazz releases in popularity– depending on who you believe, it may be the greatest selling jazz release of all time. It certainly represents an important release in my jazz collection. When people who are unfamiliar with jazz ask me where to start listening, it is a safe bet to suggest Kind of Blue. So much about the album lends itself to being a springboard of sorts to more jazz– Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans’s participation alone will send the newly motivated jazz investigator down some very important and landmark releases in the jazz canon.
Of course, these facts are not lost on the label custodian of Miles Davis’s catalog– Sony/BMG. I don’t think I can even count the reissues of just Kind of Blue that have happened over the years. For the 50th Anniversary of Kind of Blue in 2008, Sony Legacy released a beautifully-packaged release that included a clear-blue vinyl stereo LP (which fixed the long-standing mastering error that had side 2 at the wrong speed), 1 CD of Kind of Blue with an alternate take of “Flamenco Sketches” and session chatter, 1 CD with five tracks from a May 26, 1958 session and a live version of “So What” from April 9, 1960 in Holland. There was also a DVD documentary of the album, and a beautiful book, posters and photos. This is the version I have in my collection.
So, I was surprised to see in the Record Store Day list diligently maintained at Wax Poetic the mention of an LP called The Kinda Blue Sessions ’59. Some quick googling turned up some information about it, but not a lot of details. It is on Birdland Records and distributed by RedEye. (Birdland also has an interesting Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Munich ’59 live release). At SpinCD’s website, they provide the tracklist and credits:
1.Freddie Freeloader session
2.So What session
1.Blue in Green session
2.All Blues session.
Musicians: Miles Davis – Trumpet, John Coltrane – Tenor sax, Bill Evans – Piano (S1 T2. S2 T1&2) Wyn Kelly – Piano (S1 T1), Julian Adderly- Alto Sax (All except S2 T1), Paul Chambers – Bass James Cobb- Drums
Based on the research I’ve done, I suspect that this is possibly a partial release of the bootleg commonly known as Kind of Blue Studio Sessions and Outtakes.
Initially I was a little concerned that this would be a release of only the additional tracks on the first CD of the 2008 Sony Legacy release of false starts and studio sequences. In fact, these are in exactly the same order, but it’s missing the tracks from “Flamenco Sketches” making this a release that– including the “Flamenco Sketches” chatter and false starts would have only been 10 minutes long!
7. Freddie Freeloader studio sequence 1 from the 3/2/59 sessions (0:51)
8. Freddie Freeloader false start from the 3/2/59 sessions (1:25)
9. Freddie Freeloader studio sequence 2 from the 3/2/59 sessions (1:26)
10. So What studio sequence 1 from the 3/2/59 sessions (1:53)
11. So What studio sequence 2 from the 3/2/59 sessions (0:59)
12. Blue in Green studio sequence from the 3/2/59 sessions (1:59)
13. Flamenco Sketches – studio sequence 1 from the 4/22/59 sessions (0:42)
14. Flamenco Sketches – studio sequence 2 from the 4/22/59 sessions (1:09)
15. All Blues – studio sequence from the 4/22/59 sessions (0:18)
But, the notable absence of the “Flamenco Sketches” sequences and the one outtake that they released on the Legacy release of “Flamenco Sketches” would make this, although interesting from a collector’s standpoint, a pretty lame release out of the context of full songs. Especially at $29 MSRP.
The Kind of Blue Studio Sessions and Outtakes notes lists this track listing:
Tracks 1,2,3 > March 2, 1959 (2:30pm to 5:30pm and 7:00pm to 10:00pm)
Tracks 5,6 > April 22, 1959 (2:30pm to 5:30pm)
Columbia 30th Street Studio, New-York, USA
1. FREDDIE FREELOADER SESSION (13’38)
2. SO WHAT SESSION (12’53)
3. BLUE IN GREEN SESSION (11’13)
4. FLAMENCO SKETCHES SESSION (24’10)
5. ALL BLUES SESSION (11’53)
Since we know that an LP can be at the most 24 minutes per side, if you take out the 24 minutes of “Flamenco Sketches,” it would fit on one LP. Though, they could include “Flamenco Sketches” as a bonus track on the CD they are including.
The only caveat I’d mention here is that these recordings are direct dumps of the safety masters of each of the sessions (Columbia 62290, 62291, 62292, 62293, 62294) and include the tape starts and stops and have some cut outs– possibly from the tape edits? I suspect that due to the very few extra full takes available, this may include takes that were used on the official release of Kind of Blue, which begs the question about the legitimacy of the release.
Based on the wonderful Miles Ahead Sessions Information database which articulates all of the details of the sessions down to the studio chatter, here is what I know about the possible tracks:
1. Freddie Freeloader Session – This is Take 2, Take 3, Take 4 – An Edit of Take 4 was used on the official release.
2. So What Session – This is the full Take 3- An Edit of Take 3 was used on the official release. The bootleg includes Cannonball Adderley singing “with a song in my heart…” at the end.
3. Blue in Green Session – Take 2, Take 3, Take 4, Take 5 – An Edit of Take 5 was used on the official release.
4. All Blues Session – Take 1 – An Edit (faded) version was used on the official release. The bootleg includes the unfaded end with Paul Chambers panting at the end and saying “Damn…” part of “Damn that’s a hard mother!”
If this release is the Kind of Blue Sessions and Outtakes version, I’ll be happy to have this in my collection! The sound is incredible– which isn’t surprising considering the source, but certainly one I’d play. It’s great to hear the musicians working through what would become one of the most important jazz albums in history.
Read this interesting piece on NPR called “Between the Takes” by Ashley Kahn which was also used in the hardbound book included in the 50th Anniversary box of Kind of Blue.