Clip | Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool - Clip | How Miles Davis Recorded His Iconic Album “Kind of Blue”

Miles Davis didn’t provide sheet music for his musicians during the recording of his iconic album “Kind of Blue.” He said that “I didn’t write out the music for ‘Kind of Blue.’ But brought in sketches ’cause I wanted a lot of spontaneity in the playing.”

Video thumbnail photo: Recording “Kind Of Blue” with John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, April 1959, Don Hunstein/Sony Music Archives
Photo on left: Credit: Don Hunstein/Sony Music Archives

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(jazz music) - [Technician] Start again please.

Here we go.

TO-622981.

Number two take.

- [Miles] Wait one minute.

- I was probably the first one there 'cause I had to set up the drums.

So I had my drums, set 'em up and waited 'til everybody else filed in.

He just came in with little notes that he had, he didn't even have sheet music for that.

The only thing he'd tell me was like, just swing, you know, just swing.

- [Miles] I didn't write out the music for 'Kind of Blue', but brought in sketches because I wanted a lot of spontaneity in the playing.

I knew that if you've got some great musicians they will deal with the situation and play beyond what is there and above where they think they can.

- The first part of 'So What', (vocalizing). Then Paul go into the bass, (vocalizing). - (vocalizing) Man, that was the first thing I ever heard from Miles.

Grabbed the record out of my father's record collection, put it on.

First thing that catches your ear is Paul Chambers playing that bass line.

('Kind of Blue playing) - We can't even question the sacred texts that we have, right, like you know, I mean why is the bible the bible?

It's the bible, you know?

I mean, why is 'Kind of Blue' 'Kind of Blue'? It's kind of blue, like it just is and it changed the sound of jazz.

('Kind of Blue' playing) - The cymbal crash had just started so what I thought, I had overdone it.

It sounded louder than it should have been to me.

- And it seems to ring forever, but it brings you right into the tune.

It's like you've hit the highway and the rest of the tune just takes off.

('Kind of Blue' trumpet)