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Speaking of American classics, another one is coming up on its 50th anniversary. We’re talking about *Kind of Blue*, Miles Davis’ masterwork and the odds-on favorite for the greatest jazz album of all time. The album saw Davis working with arguably the best band of his career—including Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly, and John Coltrane, for a start—exploring modal sketches to work out a new kind of downbeat jazz.

We’ve gushed about Miles Davis before, but fifty years down the line, it’s interesting to consider the album as a document of 1959. It was a bestseller on release, even though it cut against the grain of Eisenhower-era culture. The world of the gray flannel suit wasn’t available to Davis and his bandmates, and the new freedoms they were opening up were entirely musical, but they still looked more attractive than life in Connecticut. As mainstream America got less and less happy with the suburban dream, this was the sound of the underground.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom