Set work: 'All Blues' from Kind of Blue

YouTube Video

Recording of All Blues

The album Kind of Blue was recorded in 1959 in New York in thee 3 hour sessions

Line up for album Kind of Blue

  • Miles Davis: trumpet
  • Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley: alto sax
  • John Coltrane: tenor sax
  • Bill Evans: piano
  • Paul Chambers: bass
  • Jimmy Cobb: drums

All of these musicians were top top jazz musicians of the time playing at the peak of their abilities - they also all worked well together.

In this album Davis wanted to explore the idea of modal jazz; he felt jazz was becoming too dependent on complex chord sequences with the soloist restricted to 'playing the changes' so even in a 32 bar structure the soloist would have to go back to the beginning after the 32 bars and play again with variations. Miles Davis felt that if the soloist was freed from the restriction of sticking to the chords this would lead to longer, freer improvisations.

Structure of All Blues

All Blues is based around a repeated 12-bar blues sequence with a 4 bar linking riff between each section.

The main melody (the head) and the solos are all played over the 12-bar sequence (the changes)

The 12-bar sequence is repeated 19 times. This chord sequence is slightly different from a standard 12-bar blues sequence.


Points to note:

  • jazz soloists often think in terms of chords and arpeggios when playing a solo
  • solos are much more than simple improvisations using a pentatonic scale over a blues sequence
  • soloist combine riffs they have learnt previously with other ideas from the music they are playing
  • the soloists never solo at the same time
  • when front-line instruments are playing together they all have clearly defined parts to play
  • the link gives the music time to breathe
  • the bass part repeats riff #1 throughout the song
  • the piano part provide chordal accompaniment throughout the piece
  • the drums provide a constantly shifting backing with a highly syncopated snare drum part, but with a steady beat throughout on the ride cymbal