American Masters

S34 E1 | CLIP

Clip | How Miles Davis Recorded "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." American Masters Presents Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool February 25 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.

AIRED: February 25, 2020 | 0:02:27

(jazz music)

- [Technician] Start again please.

Here we go.


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)


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