Ears Wide Open

New contributing writer Scott Byrnes, who works in finance in San Francisco, was inspired by an Ivy Style jazz post and herein offers one of his own.

I was in the middle of a long moving process when I read Ivy Style’s “All That Jazz” article, which inspired me to dig through boxes and pull out some of my favorite albums.

I soon realized that I hadn’t sat down and really listened to music in quite some time. When I discovered jazz in college, I would finish my classes, return to my dormitory and sit on the couch with the speakers facing me, close my eyes, and listen to one or two albums in full. It wasn’t mere background music, and I realized that lately that’s exactly what it had become.

So one by one I went back and really listened to some of my favorites:

• Oliver Nelson’s “Blues and the Abstract Truth”
• Clifford Brown’s “At Basin Street”
• The Jazz Messengers’ “Live At Birdland” (Art Blakey is pictured above)
• Sonny Rollins’ “Plus Four”
• Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker’s “Reunion”
• Modern Jazz Quartet’s “Django”
• And from Miles Davis: “My Funny Valentine,” “In Europe,” “In Person Friday Night,” “Seven Steps to Heaven,” “ESP,” and “Kind of Blue”

All are classic albums with a great sense of cool, and lend themselves to sitting in a comfortable chair with your beverage of choice, closing your eyes and really following the music. With Miles in particular, his breathy notes give a feeling of solace that never fails to keep my attention, and making me sink into a deep calm and lose track of time.

Several weeks later I’m still on my Miles kick, listening to “Kind of Blue” as I write this. And I’m back to listening to jazz the way I used to: on my couch, eyes closed, with a cold drink.

Why not do the same with the following clip? Though you may want to keep your eyes open. It’s Miles and Coltrane doing “So What.” As one comment puts it, “They rip holes in the universe with their solos.” — SCOTT BYRNES

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