It has been said that jazz history can be divided into two segments: “Before Kind Of Blue and after Kind Of Blue.” In 1959 Miles Davis recorded Kind Of Blue and “More than forty years after its release, it is still one of the most-sought-after recordings in the country; in fact, as late as 1998 it was the best-selling jazz album of the year.”
The story behind Kind Of Blue is essential to understanding the sociology of jazz and serves as a good case study for understanding jazz theology. The album was “created…because the most important jazzmen in the modern scene desperately wanted to change the way they played their music. This need was not purely musical; it had more than a little to do with the changes then going on in American society, especially concerning the lives of African-Americans.”
“It should never be forgotten that the depth and beauty of jazz have arisen from centuries of injustice, brutality, fear, and pain, none of which were passively accepted but were met with African-Americans’ resistance, striving, and hope for a more benevolent future.”
Kind Of Blue marked an “end of an era” for jazz music and the beginning of something fresh—not just emergent but also convergent. I see a day that this whole modern/postmodern emergent debate/conversation is divided into two era's: Before Jazz Theology and after Jazz Theology.
As we go on this journey, it is essential that we understand what life in America was like in 1959...
(All quotes above are from Eric Nisenson’s fine book, “The Making of Kind Of Blue.)