Nardis in Sardinia….

I have been working on the Jazz tune written by Miles Davis called ‘Nardis’….the melody, especially with it’s Phrygian flavour had got stuck in my head. Some days later I was jamming over some funk when I realised I was playing the Nardis melody (close to), and it fitted. I was gonna call it Sardin….I settled on Sardinia….I hope you dig it.

Some background, courtesy of wikipedia…”Nardis” is a composition by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It was written in 1958, during Davis’s modal period, to be played by Cannonball Adderley for the album Portrait of Cannonball.[1] The piece has come to be associated with pianist Bill Evans, who performed and recorded it many times.


From 1955 to 1958, Miles Davis was leading what would come to be called his First Great Quintet. By 1958, the group consisted of John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums, and had just been expanded to a sextet with the addition of Cannonball Adderley on alto saxophone.

Coltrane’s return to Davis’s group in 1958 coincided with the “modal phase” albums: Milestones (1958) and Kind of Blue (1959) are both considered essential examples of 1950s modern jazz. Davis at this point was experimenting with modes—i.e. scale patterns other than major and minor.[3]

In mid-1958, Bill Evans replaced Garland on piano and Jimmy Cobb replaced Jones on drums, but Evans too left after eight months, replaced by Wynton Kelly in late 1958. This group backing Davis, Coltrane, and Adderley, with Evans returning for the recording sessions, would make Kind of Blue, often considered the greatest jazz album of all time. Adderley left the band in September 1959 to pursue his career, returning the line-up to a quintet.[10]

In July 1958, Evans appeared as a sideman in Adderley’s album Portrait of Cannonball, that featured the first performance of “Nardis”, specially written by Davis for the session. While Davis was not very satisfied with the performance, he said that from then on, Evans was the only one to play it in the way he wanted. The piece would come to be associated with Evans’s future trios, which played it frequently.[1]

[We’re gonna] finish up featuring everyone in the trio with a Miles Davis number that’s come to be associated with our group, because no one else seemed to pick up on it after it was written for a Cannonball date I did with Cannonball in 1958—he asked Miles to write a tune for the date [the album Portrait of Cannonball], and Miles came up with this tune; and it was kind of a new type of sound to contend with. It was a very modal sound. And I picked up on it, but nobody else did… The tune is called “Nardis.”

—?Interview at Ilkka Kuusisto’s home, ca.1970, Bill Evans[11]

The use of the Phrygian mode and the minor Gypsy scale in this tune is also present in other “Spanish” works from those dates, like Davis’s Sketches of Spain.

Davis never recorded “Nardis”, and Adderley only did once. George Russell recorded it on his album Ezz-Thetics (1961). Pianist Richard Beirach recorded it on his album Eon (1974), guitarist Ralph Towner recorded the tune for his Solo Concert album (1979), and The John Abercrombie Quartet recorded it on the album Up and Coming (2016).

I played a 1997 Fender ‘Big Apple’ Stratocaster through a Neural DSP plugin. Focusrite Scarlett interface into Ableton Live.