Miles Davis' Kind of Blue Gets the Web Treatment

The internet has been a boon to music lovers, who now can research almost any piece of music or artist, or shop for obscure discs and memorabilia from a plethora of sources. In an interesting twist on the additional material idea, Sony Music has been making supplemental content for selected CD releases available on a special website.

Called ConnecteD, the software residing on the Sony website allows content to be developed for any release, old or new, at any time. The content can be easily updated, since it resides on the Sony web server as opposed to the CD master. Even older titles can have interactive multimedia content designed for them. There is a catch, however. One must have the specific releases from Sony that are supported, and there are not that many yet.

But a new addition to the database may be of note to Stereophile readers. Last week, Sony Music announced the availability of ConnecteD multimedia content developed for Miles Davis' classic Kind of Blue album, arguably one of the most influential albums in the history of recorded jazz.

To activate the ConnecteD content for Kind of Blue, place a copy of the CD (CK 64935 only, none of the other releases will work at this time) into your computer's CD-ROM drive and hit the ConnecteD website.

According to Sony Music, most of the Kind of Blue/ConnecteD material was commissioned and developed exclusively for this project. A wealth a material is available, including: essays by bassist and jazz scholar Todd Coolman and jazz historian Dan Morgenstern; a transcription of Davis' solo on "So What," which is synchronized with the music on the CD and allows the user to cue up various parts of the song; rare, never-before-seen photographs of the session; photos of the individual musicians that, when clicked, allow the user to access each of their solos from the disc, as well as to read quotes from Davis on the relevant musician; quotes from Davis that provide insight into the creation of Kind of Blue; never-before-heard alternate takes and studio chatter from the original master recording; the original Down Beat review from 1959, along with a critical analysis by legendary jazz writer Ira Gitler; a video clip of Miles performing "So What" from the 1959 CBS special, The Sound of Miles Davis; audio files of interviews with numerous jazz greats such as Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Milt Jackson, Dave Holland, Jimmy Cobb, Nicholas Payton, and others focusing on the importance of Kind of Blue; a reprint of the packaging, which contains noted music historian Robert Palmer's re-issue liner notes as well as Bill Evans' original liner notes, both of which are linked to certain parts of the disc so that the user can listen to a section of the disc as they read the critic's description of that same section; and links to numerous jazz-related sites.

Unfortunately, the website is currently a textbook case of what not to do for bandwidth-starved surfers: piles of pointless and slow graphics that lead to other pages with slow graphics. But my guess is that if ConnecteD catches on, Sony will redesign the site for ease of use.

"This ConnecteD content will give jazz fans new insight into Miles' classic recording. It will make listening to the disc an entirely new and exciting experience," said Jeff Levenson, Vice President, Jazz A&R and Artist Development for Columbia Records. "Much of the featured material has never been seen before, and I think it enables all who thought they knew Kind of Blue to really get it."