Artist: Miles Davis Album: Kind of Blue Genre(s): Jazz Subgenres(s): Modal Jazz Released: 1959 Length: 46 minutes (55 minutes with bonus material) Language(s): N/A Label(s): Columbia Records
01. So What
02. Freddy Freeloader
03. Blue in Green
04. All Blue
05. Flamenco Sketches
06. Flamenco Sketches (Alternative Take)
Kind of Blue is a seminal jazz album by Miles Davis. The original release consisted of 5 songs that where improvised in the recording studio but with restrictions on what scales each musician could use to shape how they played. This influential yet unorthodox technique laid the foundations for the modal jazz subgenre and became synonymous with it.
Miles Davis collaborated with other high profile musicians from the era, some of whom he had worked with before or where longstanding bandmates. This included Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (alto saxophone), Paul Chambers (double bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) and Bill Evens on piano for all tracks except Freddie Freeloader, on which the role was taken up by Wynton Kelly.
In contrast to the frantic bebop sound that Miles Davis is also known for, Kind of Blue is a laidback recording despite the nature of modal jazz. The structure of the songs becomes a hindrance as the entire album sounds like one long piece due to the structure making everything flow as subtly as it does. Most of the instruments only play small pieces before another one jumps in to do something else. Eventually it feels like trying to answer the question “at what point does the mouth of a river end and the ocean begin?”
There are some noticeable recording problems on Kind of Blue. The trumpet bursts with hissing feedback during the build-up on So What and instruments only come through one speaker (saxophone and piano on the left and drums and bass on the right). This feedback issue only seems to be at the start of So What whereas stereo sound is abused throughout Kind of Blue.
The spontaneous approach Miles Davis selected (apparently only hours before going into the studio) along with the emphasis on music theory pushes Kind of Blue into a corner in terms of who the album will appeal to. It is most likely going to be jazz enthusiasts or those with a working knowledge of music theory. The latter of which is required to “get” the music as the theory behind it (which was first written about by pianist George Russell in 1953) is in fact the focal point and the reason for it being regarded as a cornerstone of jazz music. For the rest of us it is the equivalent of throwing buckets of paint at a wall and expecting to pick out well defined shapes and patterns.
Artist: Green Carnation Album: The Acoustic Verses Genre(s): Rock Subgenres(s): Art Rock, Progressive Rock Released: 2006 Length: 43 minutes Language(s): English Label(s): Sublife Records, The End Records
01. Sweet Leaf
02. The Burden is Mine… Alone
06. Child’s Play (Part 3)
07. High Tide Waves
The Acoustic Verses is the 5th and final album by Green Carnation. It shows a drastic shift in sound by taking the soft art rock/progressive rock sound that could be heard on parts of their previous album, The Quiet Offspring, and letting its influence seep out to create an entire album based on that sound. The Acoustic Verses is full of low key melancholic vibrations and unstrained, almost delicate singing from Kjetil Nordhus to match the theme. The Burden is Mine… Alone only consists of an acoustic guitar, keyboard ambiance and straightforward lyrics but it manages to neatly summarises this theme over its short duration.
While the title of album allures to acoustic instrumentation, there are still some electric instruments used including the bass, keyboard and theremin. The acoustic guitars often take centre stage with the biggest exception being Child’s Play (Part 3). It is the only instrumental piece on The Acoustic Verses and only involves the piano and keyboard. Songs such as Alone and High Tide Waves see Green Carnation go as far as bringing in a string trio (consisting of a violin, viola and cello) to add another dimension to the rich sound of The Acoustic Verses.
In a throwback to Green Carnation’s knack for writing long songs back in the early stages of their career, they wrote a 15 minute, 3 part suite called 9-29-045 (Part 1 My Greater Cause, Part 2 Homecoming and Part 3 House of Cards). This is at odds with the other songs being that they are between 3 and 5 minutes. Placing it in the middle of the album was certainly a bold move as it could throw off some listeners but Green Carnation pulls it off and melds all the elements of The Acoustic Verses together to make a fluid sonic journey out of it.
Drummer Tommy Jacksonville deserves a special mention for being able to play a diverse and often subtle role that could have easily gone against the soft nature of the music. The drums haven’t been mixed too loudly which prevents it from overshadowing anything which leaves Green Carnation and your own ears with the best results.
Long-time fans could be disappointed by the change in sound, or even the lack of distorted heavy metal guitar riffs, but Green Carnation proves to be adept enough to dive headfirst into their new sound that lets the band end their career on a well-deserved high note.