|With Birth of the Cool, Miles Davis distilled a new tonal palette for jazz. As early as 1954, Davis reacted to the escalating chordal complexity of hard bop by fashioning an evocative blues based on a simple scalar pattern ("Swing Spring"). Kind of Blue was the ultimate fulfillment of this approach, with Davis providing his collaborators little more than outlines for melodies and simple scales for improvisation. By emphasizing the blues and the improvisor's melodic gifts, Kind of Blue precipitated a major stylistic development: modal jazz. Charles Mingus had experimented with pedal points throughout the '50s, and the melodic freedom of Ornette Coleman's Atlantic sides was also predicated on freedom from chord changes. But Kind of Blue was to prove the most influential, enduring work of its kind. There was just such a vibe about these 1959 sessions -- Davis' lyric genius and burgeoning stardom, the innovative voicings and rarefied touch of pianist Bill Evans, the electrifying presence of John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley --that some 50-plus years after its initial release, Kind of Blue is still recognized as Davis' point of departure toward jazz's less-explored regions. Bill Evans' translucent chords and Paul Chambers' famous bassline herald the revolution that is "So What": Davis and Evans' taut, coiled lyricism stands in sharp relief to the saxophonists' labyrinthine elation. The fat, shimmering beat of the classic Evans/Chambers/Jimmy Cobb rhythm team is an oasis of calm throughout the childish blues of "Freddie Freeloader." Often credited to Davis, "Blue in Green" is an Evans masterpiece, in which the rhythmic oasis becomes a smoky mirage for Davis' minor reveries on muted horn. The waltzing "All Blues" is one of the smoothest, most swinging grooves in the history of jazz, while "Flamenco Sketches" reflects Davis' fascination with the earthy melodies and brooding metaphors of the Iberian peninsula; a harbinger of his next masterpiece, Sketches of Spain. Kind of Blue remains Miles Davis' most evocative piece of musical haiku.