Miles Davis classic "Kind of Blue" still kicking at 50

Wed Oct 1, 2008 4:44pm EDT
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By Steve James

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As record albums go, Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" may not by the biggest seller of all time, but it has influenced generations of jazz and other musicians and is about to celebrate its 50th birthday.

The record has sold more than three million copies since its 1959 release and was named No. 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time in any genre, let alone jazz.

Davis' horn has been silent for 17 years now, but mention the album's five tracks, "So What," "Freddie Freeloader," "Blue in Green," "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches" and any jazz fan will hear that haunting, reedy sound again.

"Kind of Blue" -- the result of less than ten hours of actual recording time at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio -- featured the iconic Davis and his band, Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley on alto saxophone, John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Bill Evans or Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and drummer Jimmy Cobb, the only surviving member.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking work, Columbia/Legacy, a division of Sony, is putting out a luxury collector's edition, which went on sale on Tuesday (September 30).

It includes two compact discs of the original album, plus outtakes and alternative versions, a documentary DVD, a book of essays and photos, as well as the original 12-inch LP package pressed on blue vinyl.

"We wanted to commemorate one of the greatest, most influential albums," said Vince Wilburn Jr., Davis' nephew and a manager of the jazz great's estate, along with Davis' son Erin and daughter Cheryl.

Wilburn told Reuters that "Kind of Blue" has been reissued and remastered several times. Although it took three decades to sell one million copies, it has sold another two million since Davis died in 1991.   Continued...