On this day in 1959, trumpeter Miles Davis and his band began recording what became perhaps the most influential and certainly the best selling album in jazz history. Forty-plus years after its release, "Kind of Blue" remains a perennial Top 10 seller.
"Kind of Blue" was the first jazz recording to use ancient Greek musical scales as the foundation for improvisation rather than relying on traditional solos based on chord changes. The session became one of pure spontaneity as Davis dropped his new concept on his players that morning with no rehearsal.
Over the years, many musicians noticed the sound on "Kind of Blue" seemed a quarter-tone sharp, and very difficult to emulate. It turns out the master recording machine from the March 2, 1959, session was running slow. When the tape was played back at the correct speed, the music sounded a bit faster, or sharper, than intended. It was released anyway.
In 1992, Columbia Records released a Master Sound edition of "Kind of Blue" made from a backup or safety tape machine that was running at the correct speed. This gold version shines a new light on the recording, and, to some ears, makes "Kind of Blue" even more dynamic and rich.
Tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis was born this day in 1921 in New York. On and off, he spent nearly four decades as a member or guest soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra. He died in 1986.
Bass player Doug Watkins was born this day in 1934 in Detroit. After touring with James Moody, he moved to New York and became one of the original Jazz Messengers. He also recorded with Horace Silver, Donald Byrd, Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan and Charles Mingus. He died in 1962.
Bass player Buell Neidlinger was born this day in 1936 in New York. He has had a wide-ranging career, beginning as a teenager with Dixieland and swing bands, then spending nearly 10 years with avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor. His jazz-rock collaborations have been with Frank Zappa and Jean-Luc Ponty.
Guitarist Larry Carlton was born this day in 1948 in Torrance, Calif. In 1971, he joined The Crusaders and stuck around long enough to record on six of the group's funky jazz albums. At the same time, he became the premiere studio guitarist in Los Angeles.
Carlton was shot in the throat in April 1988 by a teenager apparently trying to break into his home studio. The shot went through Carlton's vocal cords and nearly severed his carotid artery. He almost bled to death, but was back playing, performing and recording within eight months. In 1998, Carlton joined the fusion band Fourplay.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau Band are at The Blue Note. The Joe Lovano quartet is at the Village Vanguard. Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts' quintet is at Iridium. Drummer Matt Wilson's quartet is at The Jazz Standard. Chris Washburne's SYOTOS Latin jazz band is at Smoke on Sunday nights.
Jazz presenter Cobi Narita celebrates her 77th birthday tonight with a fund-raising concert at St. Peter's Church for her performance space, Cobi's Place. Dozens of jazz musicians, including George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Abbey Lincoln, Clark Terry and Frank Wess, are expected to join the house rhythm section of pianist Frank Owens, bassist Earl May and drummer Jackie Willliams.
The New Reed Quartet with saxophonists Perry Robinson, Mark Whitecage, Rozanne Levine and Matt Snyder are at Witches Brew in West Hempstead, N.Y., tonight.
In Philadelphia... Ellis Marsalis and Sons are at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall tonight.
Saxophonist Jim Snidero's quartet is at the Blue Wisp in Cincinnati tonight.
In Chicago... David "Fathead" Newman's quartet is at the Jazz Showcase. Carlos Cannon is at the Backroom. Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman are at The Chambers in Niles. The Sonny Turner quintet is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium.
The Tim Green and Tim McNamara trio is at Katerina's this noon. Kara Kesselring is at Philander's in Oak Park. The Russell Alan Rowe trio is at Pops for Champagne. Jackie Allen is featured in the Gorton Community Center's Cabin Fever Jazz Series this afternoon.
In New Orleans... Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. The Shannon Powell Quartet is at Donna's. Big Sam's Funky Nation and the Just-Off-the-Boat Refugee Jazz Band are at the Funky Butt. Dr. John's Mardi Gras Mambo is at the House of Blues. The Treme Brass Band is at Snug Harbor. DJ Logic, the Li'l Rascals Brass Band, DJ Dr. Souss and the Hot 8 Brass Band are at Howlin' Wolf. Johnny Vidacovich and Stanton Moore, and Trombone Shorty are at the Maple Leaf. Lucien Barbarin and the Sunday Night Swingsters are at the Palm Court.
On the California jazz scene... 2 Foot Yard, El Fay and Carla Bozlich are at Dizzy's in San Diego's East Village tonight. Pianist Benny Green and guitarist Russell Malone is the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. Sal Marquez and Friends are at Spazio in Sherman Oaks tonight.
The Sunday Jazz Band features Doug Webb is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen. The Golden Eagle Dixieland jazz band is at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton this afternoon. Cuarteto Sonando is at The Jazz School in Berkeley this afternoon.
Spyro Gyra is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight.