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Apr 1, 2020

On this episode, Kirk dives in to one of the most influential jazz recordings of all time. (For real this time.)

As the lead track on Miles Davis's landmark album Kind of Blue, "So What" signaled a new era in jazz harmony, composition, and improvisation. This episode will get into what that actually means, how the tune works, and why the seven musicians who played on Kind of Blue were each such a crucial part of the album's magic.

Artist: Miles Davis

Album: Kind of Blue (1959)

Written by: Miles Davis

Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Amazon | Spotify



  • “Will O’ the Wisp” by Miles Davis and Gil Evans from Sketches of Spain, 1960
  • “Seven Steps to Heaven” by Victor Feldman/Miles Davis from Four And More (Live), 1966
  • “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane from Giant Steps, 1960
  • “Resolution Pt. 2” by John Coltrane from A Love Supreme, 1965
  • “This Here” By Cannonball Adderley from The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco, 1960
  • “Mercy Mercy Mercy” by Josef Zawinul from Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, 1966
  • “Autumn Leaves” by by Joseph Kosma, performed by the Bill Evans Trio on Portrait in Jazz, 1959
  • “Dancing in the Dark” by Dietz/Schwartz, performed by the Bill Evans Trio on Trio 64, 1964
  • “No Blues” by Miles Davis performed by Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio on Smokin’ at the Half Note, 1965
  • “Donna Lee” by Charlie Parker/Miles Davis recorded by the Charlie Parker Quintet, 1947
  • “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder from Songs in the Key of Life, 1976
  • “Excursions” by A Tribe Called Quest from The Low End Theory, 1991
  • “Rimshot [Intro]” by Erykah Badu from Erykah Badu: Live, 1997
  • Discussion of Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, 1990
  • Discussion of Ascension: John Coltrane and his Quest by Eric Nisenson, 1995

The Strong Songs Kind of Blue Playlist

Kirk made a new playlist of the recordings discussed on this episode, in the hopes that it would give a sense of how the seven musicians on Kind of Blue went on to make all kinds of great music as bandleaders. It's in chronological order, so don't put it on shuffle. Unless, you know, you want to.


Apple Music:


This episode's outro soloist is BJ Cord, a fantastic trumpet player based in Portland. BJ works at Monette trumpets making some of the most beautiful horns in the world, and is a regular presence on their Instagram:


If you're interested in occasional music and Portland-related photos and videos, as well as teases for upcoming Strong Songs episodes, follow Kirk on Instagram @kirk_hamilton.


Sign up for Kirk's mailing list to start getting monthly-ish newsletters with music recommendations, links, news, and extra thoughts on new Strong Songs episodes:


Visit the Strong Songs merch store for some very cool t-shirts, mugs, totes, and more:


You can find playlists containing every Strong Song as well as all of Kirk's weekly music picks from his other podcast, Kotaku Splitscreen, on both Spotify and Apple Music.

You can also find a new playlist Kirk specifically designed for listening while staying home and not spreading viruses on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play (thanks Thomas for making that last one)


Thank you to all of Strong Songs's Patreon patrons; you all are the best. If you want to support Kirk making the show, do so here:


andrew walters
Chad Barnard
Clint Johnson
Craig J Covell
Dan Apczynski
Dave Florey
Jared Norris
Mark Schechter
Merlin Mann
R Watson
Ryan Torvik
Viki Dun


AJ Schuster
Alex Singer
Alexander Polson
Amanda Furlotti
Andre Bremer
Andrew Baker
Andrew Lee
Arjun Sharma
Bill Thornton
brant brantphillip
Brett Douville
Brian Amoebas
Brooke Wilford
Chas Lednicky
Chris Brown
Christer Lindqvist
Cyrus N. White
Darryl Stewart
Dave King
David Stroud
Earl Lozada
Eero Wahlstedt
Elliot Jay O'Neill
Emily Williams
Forrest Chang
Gavin Doig
Gerry Nelson
Jacob Dye
Jaehoon Jeong
James Johnson
Jeffrey Olson
Jenifer Carr
Jennifer Bush
Jeremy Dawson
John and Sharon Stenglein
Jon O’Keefe
Juan Carlos Montemayor Elosua
Judith Stansfield
Jules Bailey
Justin Liew
Justin McElroy
Kate Albury
Kevin Morrell
Kevin Pennyfeather
Leigh Sales
Mark Steen
Markus Koester
Matt Betzel
Matt Gaskell
Max Schechter
Melanie Stivers
Michael Blackwell
michael bochner
Miriam Juskowicz
Nate from Kalamazoo
Nicholas Schechter
Richard Toller
Robbie Ferrero
Robert Paul
Sam Fenn
samuel gardner
Shane DeLeon
Tanner Morton
Tom Clewer
Tom Lauer
Toni Isaacson
Wayne Marsh