Paolo Fresu's Songlines/Night & Blue is a beautiful performance by a musician who does not feel compelled to prove himself with pyrotechnics. Instead, on this two-disc set, the Italian trumpeter prefers speaking his piece with lush melodies and a rich full horn sound, supported by an exceptional quartet. Being an Italian album, it seems appropriate to use a few musical terms. The entire affair, around 140 minutes in length, is taken sostenuto (smoothly), with a pace that slides between adagio (slowly) and andante (walking), but never goes much faster than that. But this down-tempo consistency should not be confused with sloth. Everything here is tightly played, with some real intensity from the musicians; it's just not going to wake the neighbors with frenetic thunder.
Kind of Blue isn't merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it's an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album. To be reductive, it's the Citizen Kane of jazz – an accepted work of greatness that's innovative and entertaining…
Stuart Woods had never owned more than a dinghy before setting out on one of the world's most demanding sea voyages, navigating single-handedly across the Atlantic. How, at the age of 37, did this self-proclaimed novice go from small ponds to the big sea?
The title says it all – this compilation contains 12 selections from Davis' classic Columbia recordings, all with a hazy, laid-back feel, perfect mood music for when you're feeling a little blue. There are plenty of classic performances here, from both of his classics quintets, plus his lovely interpretation of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." A pleasant sample of Miles Davis ballads spanning nearly 30 years and all manner of combo sizes. It's hard to criticize these excellent-sounding samples of Miles at his mellow best, even if these pieces are best heard in their original contexts. Makes for smooth listening or as an accompaniment to relaxing or romantic moments.
Referring to "Kind of Blue" as the best jazz album of all time might actually be doing it a disservice. Jazz is one of those complex artforms which many people shy away from, afraid that they will not be able to understand it. So extoling its virtues might frighten people even more. But "Kind of Blue" is simply beautiful music. When listening to it, you forget everything you might feel about jazz, whether good or bad, and can only listen to it, amazed and excited. Miles Davis has created something so powerful yet full of simple, memorable melodies. Every note takes you further into that state where you simply hush up, tell whoever you are with to shut up, and listen. It is certainly not the type of music I would put on when friends come over for a chat. But it is an album which I can listen to, over and over and over again. Definitely something for MUSIC fans.