Despite its inauspicious debut, the tune has become one of the most frequently recorded modern jazz standards, played in an impressive variety of settings ranging from piano trios, to Latin jazz combos, to ska-jazz ensembles, to a full orchestra featuring players from the US Air Force.
For some musicians, “Nardis” becomes an object of fascination—an earworm that can be expelled only by playing it.
But things started going wrong even before Mitchell arrived at Reeves Sound Studios on East Forty-Fourth Street.
First, his luggage went astray en route from Florida.
Reeves Sound Studios, A Musical Vacuum, The Mind That Thinks Jazz, Collective Sympathy, Polite Addiction, The Colors in the Scene, The Music between the Notes, A Constant Companion, Mount Sinai Hospital, Crucifixion, Resurrection It was supposed to be the best day of Richard “Blue” Mitchell’s life, but June 30, 1958, turned out to be one of the worst.
The trumpeter had been summoned to New York City from Miami for a recording session with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, an old friend who was being hailed as the hottest alto sax player since Charlie Parker.
The producer of the session, legendary Riverside Records founder Orrin Keepnews, ended up scrapping the night’s performances entirely. After capturing tight renditions of “Blue Funk” and “Minority,” the quintet took two more passes through “Nardis,” yielding a master take for release, plus a credible alternate.
But the arrangement still sounded stiff, and the horns had a pinched, sour tone.
But Miles’s hard-core fans continued to shun Evans.
They saw a white nerd evicting the beloved Red Garland from the prestigious keyboard chair at a time when black pride and appreciation of jazz as a distinctively black cultural form were ascendant.