The kindest blue

How do you review an album like ‘Kind of Blue’ to make it fresh, to make it sound as if you’ve just sat down to listen to it for the first time?   You simply sit down and play it again.  You let your scalp tingle with awe as Cobb makes the first open-tap of the cymbal just seconds into the opening number, ‘So What’.  Then, as you let your self go, you close your eyes and again feel surprise when Miles takes centre stage in your room, then you begin to wonder at the magic of Chambers and Evans (bass and piano) locked together as one and marvel at the compliments that Adderley and Coltrane pay to each other.

People will argue about what is the best jazz album ever; forget argument and just listen to what is good in this beautifully produced record.

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Tonight at Noon

Tonight at Noon, Charles Mingus (released 1965)

‘Tonight at Noon’ opens with a storm-blast of Arabian, African and Sub-continental rhythms and sounds that are interwoven with European instrumentation that includes an absolute bedlam of Bebop. This partly explains why it feels like Mingus is just mucking (us) around. But it also feels like the white-cover of American life has been ripped away to reveal seething diversity and conflict.

The rest of the album is a carefully assembled collection of material recorded for ‘The Clown’ and ‘Oh Yeah’. However, nothing can live up to the absorbing crypto-chaos of the introductory piece; the next four tracks are simply good standard Mingus rather than howling genius.

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