Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece

Ashley Kahn, Author, Jimmy Cobb, Foreword by
Ashley Kahn, Author, Jimmy Cobb, Foreword by Da Capo Press $23 (222p) ISBN 978-0-306-80986-6
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-306-81067-1
Paperback - 978-0-360-81558-2
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-0-306-81558-4
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-86207-541-2
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Classic jazz's bestselling album ever, Kind of Blue, is at once a beacon to nascent jazz fans and a pillar of professionals' listening repertoires. Its immense sales figures confirm its place in music history's annals, and its musical significance still impacts artists. In this close-up look at the story behind the 1959 album, Kahn (VH1's music editor) digs through photographs, sheet music, interviews and studio recordings to present a truly impressive tribute. He begins by setting the scene: in the late 1950s, jazz had already seen various styles, from swing to hard bop. Trumpeter Miles Davis, influential even before Kind of Blue, was a respected musician who could easily pull together jazz's best talent. His team on Blue consisted of alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Bill Evans (with Wyn Kelly filling in on one tune), bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Whether or not they knew the two days spent in New York's 30th Street Studio would be so affecting, the musicians labored over the album with poise and dedication. Kahn transcribes revealing conversations between takes, relaying Davis's quips on rhythm and feel. The album is recognized as a groundbreaking piece that defined modal jazz, characterized by longer solos and slower tempo, with the haunting ""So What"" leading the pack in terms of recognition and emulation. The other tracks, especially ""Blue in Green"" and ""All Blues,"" embody the album's moody, trance-like feel, and Kahn's insightful interpretation will propel veterans to reexamine the music they've been listening to for years. 64 b&w photos. (Oct.)
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