Friday, September 19, 2014

Kind of Blue Too

One thing I can never get enough of is Kind of Blue.  For all sorts of reasons, it is generally acknowledged as one of the best albums every produced.  It is certainly the best selling jazz album.  I first heard it after I joined the Columbia Music club.  Four free jazz albums!  I also got Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come.  That was worth whatever I paid. 
Tonight I am reviewing Blue, a note by note reproduction of KOB by a group called Mostly Other People Do the Killing.  Here is some info:
The audacious project, first conceived by Moppa Elliott and Peter Evans in 2002, intends to challenge the way people listen to jazz. By transcribing and recording what is arguably the greatest jazz album of all time, Mostly Other People Do the Killing affirms the greatness of the original while questioning the direction of jazz in the 21st century. The thought-experiment-cum-album forces to listener to examine what makes jazz actually jazz and brings the non-notatable elements music to the foreground: timbre, articulation and the ineffable nature of tone and feel.
Standing in for Davis' classic band are Peter Evans on trumpet, Jon Irabagon on alto and tenor saxophone, Ron Stabinsky on piano, Moppa Elliott on bass and Kevin Shea on drums.
I am not sure about the “questioning the direction of jazz in the 21st century” part.  Maybe this is a protest against the hold that jazz classics have and the situation of contemporary artists in breaking through that glass ceiling.  I must confess, but my jazz station and this blog certainly are stodgy in that regard. 
So what if someone reproduced KOB so accurately that it is indistinguishable from the original?  Would that mean that the greatness of the album was a mere accident of history?  Maybe.  But history is not to be denied. 
I haven’t yet digested this recording, but I do wonder whether one could tell which was the real one and which was Memorex.  So give it a listen and let me know what you think.