Coltrane and Miles

Coltrane is to the Burgundy region of France as Miles is to the Bordeaux region of France.

Coltrane brings a sad, sultry sound, maybe even dark, but definitely rich and rewarding in its own unique display. This soul searching sound frames any tune he plays with an intellectual composition deep in meaning and carefully constructed. He defines his craft from the slow and melodic almost breathy tone to what Down Beat magazine called, “Sheets of Sound” using a technique that involves playing really fast and using slurred glissandos. A glissando is a glide from one pitch to another up or down.

When Coltrane played with singer Johnny Hartman accompanied with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on double bass, and Elvin Jones on drums he created a symphony of music that transcended jazz. The album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman is a must have for any jazz aficionado. Even for those sticking their proverbial toe in the water of jazz, this album is rich in complexity and one of the most soothing and melodic collaborations in the history of jazz. When you listen to “They say it’s Wonderful” or “Lush Life” let the beauty take you to places you may have never traveled in any musical idiom.

This musical treasure from Coltrane and Hartman offers complexity that is enriched by simplicity. As the magic unfolds in the aforementioned album so to unfolds the French red Burgundian wine called Domain Romanee Conti, or simply DRC. Its forceful bouquet of violet mixed with a scent of cherry, and a whisper of earth, leads to the unveiling of a profound ruby robe accentuated by exceptional finesse.

There could never be a more perfect union of music and wine than the collaboration of Coltrane and Hartman while breathing in and slowly immersing ones self (drop by drop) in the expertise of the hand-crafted DRC. This Pinot Noir is simply referred to as “one of the greatest wines in the world”. Founded in 1869 the first vintage dates back to 1232. DRC is an Appellation referred to as an AOC and Grand Cru vineyard situated within the commune of Vosne-Romanee located in the Burgundy region of France. The finest vintages (in my humble opinion) would be 1962, 1978, and more recently 2016. Drink any of the 100 point DRC vintages and you will travel from this solar system to another galaxy in which all other experiences would be judged.

Let’s now move over to legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. For me the first album that had the most significant impact when I began listening to jazz was the album, “Kind of Blue”. This album featured a group of musicians that would have tremendous success in their own right (John Coltrane tenor sax, “Cannonball” Adderley alto sax, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Jimmy Cobb, and of course trumpeter Miles Davis).

“Kind of Blue” changed the way jazz was taught and analyzed. This album is the number one selling jazz album of all time. The album formed an ethereal atmosphere creating different moods or coloration. The harmonic relationships shift between cool jazz and the “harmonic rhythm” of post -bop jazz and the inventiveness of the individual players helps to create this seminal recording session.

Miles Davis was the personification of the “restless” spirit always pushing himself and his music into uncharted territory. His music was a lightening rod for musicians of all genres. I loved his staccato tones brooding and melodic woven with an introspective sound that defines his soul, his love for his instrument, and the boundaries he extended with his genius.

Miles Davis is to music as the first growth red Bordeaux’s are to wine. There was only one Miles Davis and no one could replicate his style. There are only five first growth Bordeaux wines or “premier cru classes” ( Haut Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux and Latour), and no one can replicate their power, influence, and finesse.

The classification to rank French wines in the region of Bordeaux is known as the classification of 1855. The original classification listed only four but Rothschild with his influence and power elevated Mouton Rothschild to first growth status in 1973. Each wine has its own signature profile but suffice it to say that these wines represent extraordinary quality influenced by the finest terroir, soil, and winemaker skill set.

Three of the first growth Bordeaux’s are located in the Pauillac region of Bordeaux (Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Latour). One is located in Margaux (Chateau Margaux) and the last (Chateau Haute-Brion) is located in Graves.

Bordeaux first growth vintages that you should drink include the following:

  • 1959,
  • 1961,
  • 2011,
  • 2015

The “Bordeaux blend” represents five grape varietals that make up the composition of the wine. These five grapes are Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec. Very much like the famous quintet that Miles put together, the five grapes in the “Bordeaux blend” rely on quality, consistency, and the harmony that takes single exceptional components and marries them into the perfect composition.

If you have a chance, sit and enjoy listening to Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” album, specifically the “Blue in Green” track while viewing the waves slowly overtaking the sand as you drink (as though it was your last)… the 2015 Chateau Latour.

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