I am certainly not qualified to be a critic of jazz music.  I played saxophone in my high school jazz band for two years, but it definitely was not one of my musical strengths.  I could play the written notes just fine, but I was never very good at improvisation, which is an absolutely critical part of jazz music.  To improvise well in jazz music, you need to be able to spell chords quickly, you need to be able to anticipate the chord changes, and oh yeah, you need to be able to feel the solo with all of your heart and soul.  It is that last piece that makes jazz music so expressive, but without the first two pieces, you will never be able to get to that point.

Anyway, even though I don’t have a pedigree in jazz music, I can still appreciate how talented the musicians are that made this album.  Every song was almost entirely improvised, and most were done in one take.  Miles Davis had a few simple sketches of the rhythmic and modal structure of the songs which he showed to the other musicians when they arrived in the studio.  Personally, I am in awe of the level of musicianship that is required to do something like that and have it turn out this good!  Another thing that strikes me about this album is that there is very little harmony: it is almost all melody and rhythm.  And the rhythm section never interferes with the beauty of the melodies created by the musicians all taking turns soloing.

I passed on this when I saw it at Used Kids for $7 because it wasn’t the edition I wanted (a quirk of the recording equipment makes the first three songs sound sharp on earlier editions), but I jumped on it when I saw the edition I wanted at The Exchange in Willoughby for $6 (and then a couple days later I saw it for $3 at the Buybacks on Hamiton Road…oh well).  For the record, The Exchange is my favorite used music store in the Cleveland area.  They always have tons of music in stock, and although it tends to be a little less eclectic than Used Kids, their prices are usually comparable.

Other lists: The songs on this album make no other appearance on any Rolling Stone lists.  Surprisingly, Miles Davis does not either, even though he is widely regarded as one of the all time greatest jazz musicians, as is John Coltrane, who plays tenor sax on this album.  I guess Rolling Stone is more comfortable sticking to rock and R&B music 😛

My favorite track: “Flamenco Sketches”

Honorable mention: “Blue in Green”

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