Key Points about All Blues• Album: Kind of Blue• Composer: Miles Davis• Date Composed: 1959• Style/Genre: Jazz• Another example of Jazz: Louis Armstrong (trumpet/cornet/voice) Terrible Blues with his band the Red Onion Jazz Babies.
Miles Davis• He was born in Illinois in May 1926.• He knew from a very young early age that he wanted to be a musician.• He started learning the trumpet at a young age, looking up to his heroes Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.• Charlie Parker, eventually took Davis on as his ‘sideman’, mentoring him and introducing him to the other big names in jazz music at the time.• For a short time, Miles Davis attended the Julliard School of Music in NY but he left to pursue his jazz music performing career.• He played with many of the most famous jazz musicians throughout his career, and was known for assembling many of them together for the ‘greatest collection of jazz musicians ever assembled’, when he put together the album ‘Kind of Blue’ in New York.
The Ensemble Musician Instrument Frontline/Rhythm Miles Davis Trumpet Frontline instrumentJulian ‘Cannonball’ Alto Sax Frontline instrument Adderley John Coltrane Tenor Sax Frontline instrument Bill Evans Piano Rhythm section Paul Chambers Bass Rhythm section Jimmy Cobb Drums Rhythm section
Background Info about the Album• This album explores the concept of Modal Jazz.• Davis felt that jazz improvisations and solos were too dependent on changing complex chord sequences.• Therefore, he took away this ‘restrictive’ element by having the soloist improvise over modes or scales, without having to worry about the chords changing underneath.• This makes the song quite long, as the improvisations went on for quite a while.• This is longer than most jazz styles, including bebop and cool jazz.• It is also quite a bit more laid back and relaxed compared to other jazz styles.
Melody• The melody is played by the frontline instruments.• It is improvised.
Structure• This piece is based around a repeated 12 bar blues sequence.• Each frontline instrument has its own solo while the other instruments ‘comp’ (accompany).• Order of the piece:1. Intro: Drums; bass riff and piano trill; saxes join bar 5; quiet.2. Head: Davis (with mute) melody; melody based on simple motif; saxes motif.3. Solos: Davis (Trumpet), Adderley (Alto sax), Coltrane (Tenor sax), Evans (Piano).4. Head: Similar to earlier ‘head’. Davis mutes trumpet again. Some melodic development.5. Outro: 12 bar blues with short trumpet solo over saxes riff. Song fades out at end of final chorus.
12 Bar Blues• This piece uses the 12 bar blues sequence in G. It is created using the chords I, IV and V of the G major scale. G A B C D E F# G 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 I – G, IV – C, V – D• 12 bar blues used in the piece (use of 7th and 9th chords in every bar): Bar 1 2 3 4 G7 G7 G7 G7 5 6 7 8 C7 C7 G7 G7 9 10 11 12 D7#9 Eb7#9 D7#9 G7 G7• NB: Bar 10 is completely different to the normal pattern and has 2 chord changes instead of 1.
12 Bar Blues continuedThese are the notes of the chords in the piece:• G7 = G, B, D, F• C7 = C, E, G, Bb• D7#9 = D, F#, A, C, E#• Eb7#9 = Eb, G, Bb, D, F#7ths and 9ths chords:• A chord is created using notes 1, 3, and 5 of a scale (missing one note in between each time). In jazz music, sometimes extra chords are added. This is called extending the chord.• A 7th chord is created when you add the 7th note of the scale to the chord. The dominant 7th chord is where the 7th note is lowered by 1 semitone. (Dominant 7ths in All Blues: G7 = G B D F and C7 = C E G Bb).• A 9th chord is created when you add the 7th and the 9th note of the scale to the chord.
Solos on the frontline instruments (and Evans piano solo)The main ideas for the solos:• Scale and arpeggio patterns.• Ornamented (florid/intricate melodies).• Chromatic at times.• Modal.• Virtuosic (very fast, difficult passages that are difficult to play).• Syncopated.There is a linking section in between each solo which anticipates the solo:• Link before Davis solo: Piano comping loses trill (so that focus can be on Davis); drum beat changes in preparation for solos. Saxes play but drop out at end for solo.• Link before Adderley solo: Davis drops. No saxophones during this link.• Link before Coltrane solo: Adderley drops out. Otherwise same as previous link.• Link before Evans solo: Coltrane drops out. Otherwise same as previous link.
AccompanimentWhile the frontline instruments have the main melody, the rhythm instruments ‘comp’ underneath. Comping is short for ‘accompaniment’. The instruments will:• Play a backing for the soloist to improvise over.• Improvise on the chords of the 12 bar blues structure.• Play rhythmic/chordal ‘fills’.
Mixolydian mode• A mixolydian scale is made up of the following combination of tones/semitones: T T S T T S T.• E.g. C Mixolydian: C D E F G A Bb C.• E.g. G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G.• Notice how the Bb in the C Mixolydian and F (natural) in the G Mixolydian scales are also flattened 7th notes of each major scale – these are blue notes.
Tonality• ‘Modal Jazz’. This piece is mostly in G major as it is based on the 12 bar blues in G Major, but with ‘blue notes’ alterations.• Some use of G and C mixolydian modes:• (tone/semitone combination: T T S T T S T).
Metre and TempoMetre:• 6/4 time signature throughout.• This means that there are 6 crotchets (1 beat notes) per bar. They are grouped in dotted minim beats: 2 per bar.Tempo:• No metronome mark is given but there is the instruction: Jazz Waltz at the start of the piece.• This tells the performers that it should be played with emphasis on the first of each 3 beats (1 2 3 4 5 6) so that it sounds like 2 bars of ¾ which is associated with the waltz.
Ornamentation• To add an ornament to a note is to decorate it.Different ornaments are used in this piece:• Trills – intro – piano and bass.• Mordents – sometimes written as a zig-zag line over the note. Here they have written it out as they would be played: e.g. in bar 11 the triplet B- C-B before the note is a morden. It is played as: note – note above – note.• Acciaccatura – short ‘grace note’ before the note: it is easy to sport as it is a smaller note than normal and has a line through the tail.
Instrumental techniques and HarmonyInstrumental techniques:• Drums (Snare) played with brushes rather than sticks.• Trumpet uses a mute ‘harmon mute with stem taken out’.Harmony:• This piece, being in a jazz style, uses jazz harmony.• This means there are plenty of 7ths and 9ths chords.