SUPER-DELUXE 12-INCH SLIPCASE BOX SET CONTAINS:
• Two CDs (original album plus studio sequences, false starts, and alternate takes from 1958-59 sessions, plus 17-minute “So What” live in Holland, 1960)
• DVD: newly-produced documentary featuring superstars of jazz
• 60-page ‘perfect-bound’ 12x12 full-color book, tons of photos
• 180-gram blue vinyl 12-inch LP– first time ever in a Legacy box set!
In-depth liner note essays written by award-winning Miles Davis authorities Francis Davis and Gerald Early; session transcripts by Ashley Kahn; detailed 1957-60 quintet/sextet timeline by Bob Belden and Ken Vail
Box set memorabilia: 3-page hand-written liner notes by Bill Evans; reproduction of 1959 Columbia promo brochure; six 8x10 photos; and 22x 33 foldout poster.
Like a fine vintage wine – an epicurean delight near and dear to Miles Davis (1926-1991) – the music contained in Kind of Blue (recorded and released on Columbia in 1959) reveals added nuance and unexpected pleasures the older it gets. And yet with each year that Kind of Blue ages, it goes through a rejuvenation process that is exciting to behold. At the same time, the album inspires renewed levels of scholarship into the context of its creation, seeking to solve the mystery of its allure after five decades.
All the elements of the classic album’s terroir – the earthy chemistry of Miles the creator and his “first great quintet”: Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley (1928-1975, alto saxophone), John Coltrane (1926-1967, tenor saxophone), Bill Evans (1929-1980, piano) or Wynton Kelly (1931-1971, piano), Paul Chambers (1935-1969, bass), and Jimmy Cobb (b. 1929, drums, the only surviving member), brought together at Columbia’s old 30th Street Studio for less than ten hours of actual recording time – resulted in a work of deceptively stunning simplicity. Tens of thousands of jazz albums, and – three? four? – generations of jazz players later, the essence of Kind of Blue has never been duplicated. That may account, in part, for its RIAA triple-platinum status in the U.S. and worldwide recognition as a timeless masterpiece, #12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.
KIND OF BLUE: 50th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR'S EDITION is an expansive and lavishly-designed, super-deluxe 12-inch slipcase box set. It gathers the entire panoramic sweep of the album’s history – past, present and future – onto two CDs (running time over two hours); a newly-produced black-and-white documentary DVD (55 minutes); a full-size (12x12) 60-page perfect-bound book of critical essays, annotations, discographic data, timeline, and copious photography; and an envelope chockful of memorabilia; all accompanied – for the first time in the history of Legacy Recordings – by the original 12-inch LP package pressed on 180-gram blue vinyl. Together with an enormous 22x33 fold-out poster of Miles, the box set will be available at all retail outlets starting September 30th through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.
Of special importance to Miles Davis aficionados around the globe is the DVD produced by Nell Mulderry: Celebrating A Masterpiece: Kind Of Blue. The new DVD incorporates material from the 2004 mini-documentary, Made In Heaven, including black-and-white still photography of the recording sessions and the voices of Miles (at the sessions), as well as excerpts of radio interviews with the late Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley. There are interviews with musicians and luminaries including composer/performer David Amram, the late Ed Bradley, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Bill Cosby, Herbie Hancock (who demonstrates “So What” at the piano), Eddie Henderson, Shirley Horn, Dave Liebman, the late Jackie McLean, funk-rocker Me’Shell Ndege'Ocello, hip-hop's Q-Tip, Carlos Santana, John Scofield, Horace Silver, and many others.
The DVD also unearths the group’s entire 26 minute in-session appearance on “Robert Herridge Theatre: The Sound of Miles Davis,” a CBS television program recorded in 1959 and broadcast in 1960. Another bonus feature is the gallery of images captured by Columbia staff photographer Don Hunstein, covering the original recording sessions, as well as a key performance at New York’s Plaza Hotel in September 1958. (Hunstein is prominently represented in the 50-plus images in the KIND OF BLUE: 50th book.) In conjunction with the latter, an unprecedented four-week exhibit of Miles Davis photography will be mounted at New York’s downtown Morrison Hotel Gallery in November-December 2008 (also featuring live music); the exhibit will then travel to other Morrison Hotel locations and Starwood Hotels in 2009.
Celebrating A Masterpiece: Kind Of Blue was directed by Chris Lenz, known for his work on the bonus DVD of interviews and performances that accompanied the 2003 Legacy Edition of Jeff Buckley Live At Sin-É. The new DVD was executive produced by Adam Block, co-produced by Ashley Kahn, and written by Michael Cuscuna.
At the absolute core of KIND OF BLUE: 50th is the original 45-minute album program, whose five titles – “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader,” “Blue in Green,” “All Blues,” and “Flamenco Sketches” – are indelibly etched in our contemporary musical DNA, be it jazz, rock, third through fifth stream classical, or beyond. They are familiar old acquaintances on the LP as it existed in the marketplace for nearly three decades: the first three numbers occupying side one (which happened to have been cut on the first day of recording, two three-hour sessions on Monday, March 2, 1959); and the last two numbers on side two (recorded at the final three-hour session of Wednesday, April 22, 1959).
On KIND OF BLUE: 50th’s CD One, after the original five tunes are presented, there is the alternate take of “Flamenco Sketches,” the only complete alternate take from the original recording sessions (a track first unveiled on the 5-LP/4-CD box set of 1988, Miles Davis: The Columbia Years 1955-1985, the first Miles Davis box set ever issued by Columbia). Following the alternate take, there are “studio sequences” (ranging from 11 seconds to nearly two minutes) for every one of the five titles, and one “false start”. As transcribed and fleshed out by Ashley Kahn, these short tracks are eye-opening revelations into the studio relationship between Miles, the musicians, Columbia staff producer Irving Townsend, and recording engineer Fred Plaut, at this still-early stage in Miles’ career as a leader (though he had been making records since 1945).
The 1959 sessions occupy CD One – and then CD Two turns back the calendar to May 26, 1958. The five completed tracks from that session with producer Cal Lampley – “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Fran-Dance” (with an alternate take), “Stella by Starlight,” and “Love for Sale” – are the only other studio recordings of the sextet with Adderley, Coltrane, Evans, Chambers, and Cobb (though live recordings exist from the Newport Jazz Festival in July, and the Plaza in September).
The five 1958 studio tracks, scattered on various LP through the years, were united in one place for the first time on the double Grammy Award-winning 6-CD box set issued in 2000, Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961. Now, for the first time, the five 1958 studio tracks are rightfully coupled – at last – with the five sextet tracks of Kind of Blue. The final track on CD Two is a mesmerizing 17-minute live concert version of “So What” (without Adderley, with Kelly), recorded in Holland, April 1960.
In late 1958, after some eight months, Bill Evans left the lineup and was replaced by Wynton Kelly. As Miles began to formulate his next studio recording, Evans was invited back for the sessions and became an integral spark