So What (composition)

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"So What"
Composition by Miles Davis from the album Kind of Blue
Released August 17, 1959
Recorded March 2, 1959
Genre Jazz
Length 9:22
Label Columbia
Composer Miles Davis
Producer Teo Macero
Kind of Blue track listing
  1. "So What"
  2. "Freddie Freeloader"
  3. "Blue in Green"
  4. "All Blues"
  5. "Flamenco Sketches"

"So What" is the first track on the 1959 Miles Davis album Kind of Blue.

History[edit]

"So What" is one of the best known examples of modal jazz, set in the Dorian mode and consisting of 16 bars of D Dorian, followed by eight bars of E Dorian and another eight of D Dorian.[1] This AABA structure puts it in the thirty-two bar format of American popular song.

The piano-and-bass introduction for the piece was written by Gil Evans for Bill Evans (no relation) and Paul Chambers on Kind of Blue.[citation needed] An orchestrated version by Gil Evans of this introduction is later to be found on a television broadcast given by Miles' Quintet (minus Cannonball Adderley who was ill that day) and the Gil Evans Orchestra; the orchestra gave the introduction, after which the quintet played the rest of "So What".

The distinctive voicing employed by Bill Evans for the chords that interject the head, from the bottom up three perfect fourths followed by a major third, has been given the name "So What chord" by such theorists as Mark Levine.

While the track is taken at a very moderate tempo on Kind Of Blue, it is played at an extremely fast tempo on later live recordings by the Quintet, such as Four & More.

The same chord structure was later used by John Coltrane for his standard "Impressions".[2] Both songs originate in Ahmad Jamal's 1955 cover of Morton Gould's "Pavanne" [3]

The actor Dennis Hopper, in an interview in 2008 with Men's Journal, claims that Davis named the song after intellectual conversations with Hopper, in which Hopper would reply, "So what?" [4]

Renditions[edit]

Grant Green recorded a version on his 1961 album Sunday Mornin'.

George Benson recorded a version on the 1971 album Beyond the Blue Horizon.

Ron Carter recorded a version on his 1974 album Spanish Blue.

Larry Carlton recorded "So What" (as well as "All Blues") during a live performance at the Baked Potato in 1985. Those performances were released in 1986 on his album Last Nite.

In 1992, Ronny Jordan covered the song on his album The Antidote.[5]

In 2005, Larry Coryell Trio covered the song on the album Electric.[6]

In 1998, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman put out an album with the title "So What" that has two renditions of the title track.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Khan, Steve. "Miles Davis Jazz Trumpet Solo Transcription and Analysis". Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Nisenson, Eric (1995). Ascension: John Coltrane and his quest. Da Capo Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-306-80644-4. 
  3. ^ 'Considering Genius', by Stanley Crouch, page 99, ISBN 0-465-01512-3
  4. ^ Steven Russell (1 June 2010). "Dennis Hopper:The Interview". Men's Journal. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Antidote overview". Allmusic.com. 
  6. ^ "Electric overview". Allmusic.com. 

External links[edit]