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Miles Davis Masterly Kind of Blue Turns 50

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One of the greatest records ever made continues to define jazz music. Miles Davis's recording session in 1959 for Kind of Blue.

It's a record that sounds like it was made yesterday. It's as hip as anything on the planet. It's the accumulation of everything that ... modern jazz is about.
Quincy Jones

Jimmy Cobb could hardly imagine he would be making history when he arrived at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio 50 years ago for the first of two recording sessions with Miles Davis.

“I was always enthusiastic about making records with Miles," said Cobb, who got to the studio before the other musicians to set up his drum kit. “I wasn't told anything about what the music was going to be."

Cobb ended up being part of the all-star sextet, plus one, that recorded “Kind of Blue," an album Quincy Jones (and many others) consider to be “one of the greatest records ever made."

Since its August 1959 release, Kind of Blue has ranked as one of the most influential and popular jazz albums ever with more than 4 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America and has recently been reissued in deluxe box sets to mark its 50th anniversary.

But in 1959, Cobb the last surviving musician in a group that included saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball" Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, and bassist Paul Chambers regarded it “as just another Miles Davis record date."

“It was relaxed and the guys always had fun around each other," said Cobb. “It had to be the talent, the music, the studio ... I don't know how that magic happens but it happened those two days."

Golden era in jazz
Jones, who as a young trumpeter in the '50s was heavily influenced by his close friend Davis, considers “Kind of Blue" a culmination of a golden era in jazz that began in the late '40s with the bebop revolution launched by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. At the same time, the album foretold the new sounds that would emerge in the '60s.

“It's a record that sounds like it was made yesterday. It's as hip as anything on the planet," said Jones. “It's the accumulation of everything that ... modern jazz is about.

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