Kind of Blue wins the "best jazz album" contest almost by default. While hardly anyone with a decent jazz collection would call it their favourite jazz album (everyone seems to have a different favourite), almost everyone will agree that it is one of the best jazz albums. While only very few people can get really excited about it, there seems to be a universal agreement, even among non-jazz aficionados, that it's extremely good. Still, while hailed by many as a masterpiece, the typical first reaction of many listeners is an underwhelmed "so what", not because of the title of the first song, but because on a first listen, there seems to be nothing even remotely special about it.
This is perhaps because as far as jazz goes, Kind of Blue is both understated and not really all that representative. It is a strangely subdued, low key album in a persistently slow or mid tempo. The solos are deceptively simple throughout, no acrobatics whatsoever. The pieces themselves offer only minimal variation, so little in fact that quite a few people think that "So What" and "Freddie Freeloader" are really the same track rather than two different tunes. With the solos based on modes rather than scales, it's an impressionist rather than expressionist album, one that creates a persistent mood rather than showing off in terms of virtuosity.