Listen to ‘Kind of Blue,’ improve your life

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US News & World Report’s fluffy list of 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009 is filled with the type of examples you’d expect from a list such as this – however they do offer one extra special suggestion for anyone looking to improve their life this year, and that is to Listen to Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

Kenneth Terrell’s article is actually a reprint from last year, but nevertheless we applaud US News & World Report’s prescience in including Miles Davis and his musical masterpiece in their guide for making your 2009 the very best it can be.

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1 thought on “Listen to ‘Kind of Blue,’ improve your life”

  1. August 17, 2009 marks exactly fifty years from the day Columbia Records released the Miles Davis album, “Kind of Blue”. “So What?” one might ask. Well, there are many great albums from the Age of Vinyl, but “All Blues” are not the same. Some music has the horsepower to affect and alter it’s listeners, to move them mentally and emotionally, and to transform them.
    One afternoon on the sidelines of the soccer pitch, at least fifteen years ago, I was talking to the son of a friend of mine. Though this young fellow was in college at the time, I had known him since he was in grade school. Beside refereeing youth soccer games, he had been in a garage rock band since high school. “My Dad told me you listened to jazz a lot,” he says, “but I don’t know much about it. People say it’s pretty deep. What should I listen to so I can get into it?” “Get a copy of the CD “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis,” I told him. “It’s easy to find. They probably have it at Wal-Mart. Drink two glasses of wine and sit in the dark with headphones on, at one o’clock in the morning. Listen to Miles talk on trumpet, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, John Coltrane on tenor sax, and Bill Evans on piano. Do this three times. You will be turned on to the music.”
    I knew this because that’s how I got hooked on jazz. (Well…I didn’t have the wine.) The Columbia Record Club sent me a copy of the “Kind of Blue” album when I was thirteen years old. As I lay in bed listening to it in 1960, the music transported my mind from suburban New Jersey to a smokey jazz club in Greenwich Village, where I could hang out with Maynard G. Krebs, and talk to girls with blonde ponytails, wearing black turtleneck sweaters. From that point on, I began to construct an aura, a shell, of iconoclastic coolness, or so I imagined.
    Anyway, about six months after my conversation with this young guy, I ran into his father, Claude, who tells me a tale of woe about how their oldest son is driving both his wife and him nuts. (I knew this to be a very short ride.) “That crazy kid,” he told me, “changed his major at the University, from Business Administration to Music. He says he wants to become a jazz musician!” Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, Claude went on to ask, “Do they still have those?? I thought they were all dead by now!! Where does he get these crazy ideas???
    What could I say? I didn’t tell him. Two years later I heard Claude Jr. was playing bass on weekends in a piano trio, in a bar just off the expressway. It wasn’t me, or what I had said to him. It was Miles. Like the Pied Piper in the fairy tale, his recorded sound (particularly in his golden period from 1955 to 1965) kidnaps the listener’s ear. Looking back from a fifty year view, the “Kind of Blue” album remains a masterpiece of the twentieth century.

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