Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Cannonball Adderley, alto sax; Bill Evans, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums.
The bass ascends, prompting a two-note response from the piano: this prefigures, in slow tempo, the main head (see 0:33). The chords drift ambivalently, fitting no particular key area.
The piano and bass play a melody together.
Over plucked bass notes, the pianist plays a series of elusive, rubato chords.
The bass rumbles in its lowest register.
In a steady tempo, the bass plays a repetitive riff. It is answered by a two-note chord from the piano, supported by the drums: "So what!"
When the A section is repeated, the response is now voiced by the three wind instruments. The drums intensify, playing the backbeat on the high-hat cymbal.
In a subtle but noticeable change, the pattern is transposed a half-step higher.
Everything drops back down again to the original key.
The trumpet enters one bar early, his entry announced by fills from the drums.
Miles Davis plays a few short phrases, the pianist comping in response.
Davis follows with a longer phrase: the piano is silent.
As Davis's melodic line reaches its peak, he pulls slightly behind the beat.
Davis plays a few repeated notes; the piano returns.
To signal the bridge, the piano moves to a chord cluster up a half step. He holds the dissonant cluster underneath Davis's solo.
The shift downward to the original key is signaled by a sharp drum accent.
Davis plays a lyrical, sustained passage over a static but rhythmically active bass line.
The bass shifts back to a walking bass pattern.
Davis enters the bridge one beat early with an unexpected dissonance.
Another drum crash marks the return back to the original key; Davis reprises the lyrical passage from the beginning of the chorus.
At the peak of his last phrase, Davis plays with a bluesy timbre.
While the drums continue to play strong accents to round up Davis's solo, Coltrane echoes Davis's restrained melodic statements with a few of his own.
Suddenly, Coltrane switches to a more intense style of improvising with flurries of fast notes. Evans responds with a peculiar comping pattern: holding out a few notes, releasing others.
The drummer plays more actively on the snare drum, matching the soloist in intensity.
As Coltrane reaches the upper limits of his phrase, his timbre coarsens.
Coltrane plays a phrase in his lower register, repeating it with extensions.
The drummer plays a Latin polyrhythm.
As in chorus three, the bass moves to a repeating pattern.
The bass returns to a walking bass pattern.
Coltrane plays a motive, then repeats it in sequence (starting on a different pitch).
Coltrane's improvisations are built around a single note.
His last phrase begins in his highest register.
The rhythm section quiets down to allow the new soloist, on alto saxophone, to enter.
Adderley alternates brief motives with lengthy, bebop-style 16th-note runs.
Adderley signals the bridge two beats early by playing notes from the upcoming scale.
Adderley bridges the return to the original mode by playing a short, four-note motive in sequence.
Adderley's phrases interact in call-and-response with the piano.
His next phrase contains a trill that blends seamlessly into his faster bebop lines.
A simple phrase situated firmly on the beat is followed by a sensuous swirl.
On the bridge, Adderley suddenly plays with an intense bluesy edge.
Underneath him, Evans hits his chords quickly, sustaining only a single note.
A short bluesy phrase elicits a high-pitched piano chord.
On his last phrase, Adderley expressively bends a note.
The horns enter with the "So What" riff, now displaced into a new rhythmic position. In response, the pianist plays dense, dissonant chords.
The pianist plays single-note lines, recalling Davis's lyrical phrases.
On the bridge, the pianist returns to short, dissonant chord clusters.
Back in the home key, the pianist plays thinner clusters: a melody harmonized by the note immediately below it.
The pianist shifts the "So What" riff back to its original position. The bass continues to walk.
The bass plays the call, with the horns joining the piano in responding with the "So What" chords.
The piano continues to respond to the bass, while the other instruments drop out. The music fades into silence.