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Every music fan touches Kind of Blue. It is the best-selling jazz album of all time.Kind of Blue was recorded over two days, the first of which, March 2, 1959, was 56 years ago today. Miles Davis convened his sextet—Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly—at Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studio in New York City. The first cut, “So What,” would go on to become one of the most familiar pieces of music in all of jazz. In a BBC documentary about jazz in the year 1959 (below), author Ashley Kahn likens Davis’s opening solo to a whispered confession. More than anything, Kind of Blue remains a gateway to potential jazz listeners of all ages. Some finish side two and immediately dig deeper into the rest of Davis’s catalogue. Some hear it and start exploring the various players on the record, like Bill Evans or John Coltrane (who may lead you to Thelonious Monk). Before you know it, you’re crate-digging for names like Coleman Hawkins, Wes Montgomery, Ornette Coleman, then going back toward Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong. It just goes and goes and you’re never quite satiated, not since Kind of Blue whet your appetite.
But even if none of that happens, even if Kind of Blue is the only jazz record you ever hear or care to hear, you will have at least touched it, and you’re better off for it in the end.