released on august 17 1959, but recorded in march and april of the previous year at columbia records' 30th street studio, miles davis' kind of blue has become the most successful jazz album of all time and not just purely on the basis of record sales. featuring trumpeter davis, saxophonists julian cannonball adderley and john coltrane, pianist bill evans, drummer jimmy cobb, and bassist paul chambers, it was a follow up to the modal experiments first heard on the previously released milestones album of 1958.
on october 7, 2008 it was certified as a triple platinum record based on sales figures and at the time of writing it was sitting at number 14 on the itunes jazz charts. quite an achievement for an album released fifty-six years ago. in this respect, it doesn't seem to stretch credibility too far to consider kind of blue as smooth jazz, mostly on what appears to be its continued appeal to such a broad church of contemporary listeners and its non-aggressive musicality. however it is several levels above albums from the likes of spyrogyra and george benson, perhaps more traditionally regarded as smooth jazz.
davis went on to become arguably the founder of jazz rock or fusion music, much of which does little for my jazz sensibilities, even if i wouldn't deny its influence on what could truly be regarded as contemporary jazz music.
in mid-september each year, the lagavulin islay jazz festival takes place over a weekend of idiosyncratic venues (a lighthouse?) across the island. remarkably few locals attend any of the concerts on offer, mostly on the basis of "i don't like jazz.", a phrase that sounds every bit as idiotic as "i don't like pop music."
jazz covers such a wide experience of differing styles and instrumentation, that i'm willing to bet that everybody would be capable of finding at least one corner of jazz that they'd find to their taste. there's a strong possibility that kind of blue would make an excellent starter for ten. but, on the basis that we generally discuss matters of the bicycle, you may find yourselves wondering whether you've typed the wrong url into the web browser's address bar.
but fear not, i offer this paean to a prime example of modern jazz in the strong likelihood that you might avail yourself of a pair of svelte clothing bibshorts. not, i assure you, as bizarre a notion as you might at first think.
svelte's classic bibshorts are made in italy, a country with a reputation for fabricating cycle clothing to fit no known human being, other than tiny professional cyclists. this is, in my opinion, often a very good thing, for i firmly believe that cycle shorts ought to offer a bit of resistance when pulling them on pre-ride. with pretty much every cycle clothing company on the face of the earth, i take a small in bibs and a medium in tops, so when svelte offered to send items for review, those are the sizes i listed. the shorts are definitely small of stature.
however, though offering a smidgeon more resistance than usual to being worn, they did fit spectacularly well. and i know, through all the foregoing, you're still wondering how kind of blue fits into all this. well, to be totally contrived, they are basically navy blue with sky-blue edging, but for once, reading the washing instructions is pretty much compulsory, to wit...
"machine wash ideally with a little smooth jazz in the background. like colours only, but never with teal. it hates teal. warm iron with affection."
this rather entreats the prospective owner to ensure they have a copy of miles' kind of blue on the ipod in the kitchen, ready and willing to be played whenever the svelte bibshorts require washing. conceivably, the lack of jazz might make no difference whatsoever, but do i really want to risk it?
i'm not completely sure that matching the blue shorts with a dark green heritage svelte short sleeve jersey was likely to endear me to the fashion police, but since i mostly wore them while thrashing about bridgend woods on my cyclocross bike, there's a better than evens chance that the dappled light filtering through the trees prevented the dog walkers and the woman participating in what appeared to be nordic walking from noticing my potential fashion faux pas.
the jersey is fabricated in london from what the rest of us would know as sportwool, though presumably not under that particular trademark. predominantly a danish merino wool/polyester mix, it is what svelte describe as an athletic fit. suffice it to say, if you have one or two variations from the eponymous athletic and svelte (see what i did there?) figure, you should choose your sizing carefully. to place it in some perspective, flappage is not an iniquity from which you're likely to suffer.
thus dressed in classic bibs and green heritage jersey, i opted to go cyclocrossing, partly on the bais of my new found mounting/dismounting skills, partly because i rather enjoy riding cross anyway and partly because i figured it would give my new svelte wardrobe the very workout it least expected. a very close fitting pair of bibshorts would surely show up any scary bits when continually thrown on and off a brooks saddle with yours truly comfortably sat inside. and would that jersey, with stuffed pockets retain its composure through all that constant twisting and turning? and ultimately and perhaps most importantly, would the combination still look good when seen devouring a double-egg roll and soya cappuccino at debbie's on saturday lunchtime?
the answers to all the foregoing are remarkably positive. in the face of undergrowth thrashing, the shorts were magnificent, if nothing else, reinforcing my long-held contention regarding sizing. the legs remained firmly affixed to my lower thighs, just above the knees no matter the incompetence with which they were faced. despite my description of them as small, their proportions were immaculate, offering none of those sean yates moments, nor experiencing any slip sliding of the bib straps on my shoulders.
the jersey features the expected three rear pockets, accompanied by a zipped security pocket and a more than welcome fifth sitting outboard of the leftmost rear and closed with what appeared to be a sturdy loop wrapped round a medallion. i carried an extra multi-tool in this pocket which came in very handy for some emergency cantilever toe-in mid ride.
at £90 for a british-made 'sportwool' jersey, svelte offer good value for money. this fabric as an alternative to a regular polyester example is always a bit of treat, and i really couldn't find anything to fault. and believe me, i looked long and hard. the bibshorts too similarly priced at £90 are excellent value. the pad was all but invisible throught my test rides and the fit, assuming you choose wisely, is nigh on impeccable. however, the one feature that lets them down is the height of the front bib section. when taking what we professionals like to refer to as a natural break in the toilet at debbie's i had almost to enrol in a yoga class to achieve the contortions necessary to relieve oneself.
i'd hate to attempt a similar manoeuvre from the saddle (i'm not sure it's possible, to be honest). svelte either need to reconsider the necessary height of the fron mesh panel or to install a zip. currently, this undermines what are otherwise a superb pair of bibshorts at a very attractive price.
svelte classic bibshorts are available in sizes xs to xxl in either blue as reviewed or with a pink edging on the hem. the jersey is available in green heritage as reviewed or burgundy or navy in sizes from xs to xl.
monday 2 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................