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The Making of Kind of Blue: Miles Davis and His Masterpiece Paperback – October 5, 2001
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From the moment it was recorded, more than forty years ago, Miles Davis's Kind of Blue was hailed as a jazz classic. To this day, it remains the bestselling jazz album of all time, embraced by fans of all music genres. The album represented a true watershed moment in jazz history, and helped to usher in the first great jazz revolution since bebop.
The Making of Kind of Blue is an exhaustively researched examination of how this masterpiece was born. Recorded with pianist Bill Evans; tenor saxophonist John Coltrane; composer/theorist George Russell; and Miles himself, the album represented a fortuitous conflation of some of the real giants of the jazz world, at a time when they were at the top of their musical game. The end result was a recording that would forever change the face of American music
Through extensive interview and access to rare recordings, Eric Nisenson pieced together the whole story of this miraculous session, laying bare the genius of Miles Davis, other musicians, and the heart of jazz itself.
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“Eric Nisenson turns Kind of Blue into a story that tells us much about what great jazz is and can be. It's worth reading just for the stories of how one of the greatest albums of all time came into being, but it offers so much more--a low-key but superb education in the way jazz is made and how it comes to mean the things it does.” ―Dave Marsh, Playboy pop critic and editor of Rock and Rap Confidential
“A masterpiece in its own right.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Eric Nisenson is the author of Round About Midnight: Portrait of Miles Davis, Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest, Blue: The Murder of Jazz, and Open Sky, a biography of Sonny Rollins. He lives in Massachusetts.
- ASIN : 031228408X
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (October 5, 2001)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780312284084
- ISBN-13 : 978-0274865178
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.58 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #752,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #6,078 in Essays & Correspondence (Books)
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I also disagree with his main assertion that jazz can be divided into before and after Kind of Blue. Perhaps for a lack of a better word, what can be called modem jazz began then. But it is an over simplification. It ignores the many directions jazz took both before and after. He seems to totally ignore Ragtime, Dixieland, evolving into the great American Song Book, Swing, Jump Blues and the transition from big band jazz to small groups which set the stage for bebop. He makes it sound like jazz began with bebop.
He repeats himself over and over about George Russell's Lydian mode theory but doesn't explain anything about it until the end of the book. He speaks about how jazz before modal theory is a series of V chords resolving to I, suggesting Russell's theory is somehow different. But when he finally does give any explanation, it is how the V major scale is identical to the I Lydian scale. I fail to understand how that is any different. I'm sure Russell's system is far more complicated than that, but his books are rare and expensive so I don't think I'll be reading much more any time soon.
A disappointing read about my favorite record. It is because so little is about the book is about the record itself that I'm disappointed. If however you want to read detailed biographies of everyone involved in the record this book is for you.
I must say that I enjoyed this book, for the most part. I am a professional musician and music theorist and have been fascinated by this period of music...basically jazz between about 1953 and 1962 is my dream time in jazz. Not to say I don't appreciate and respect other eras, but for me, personally this was the real stuff. During this period there was an actual dramatic tension, at times, between the two main concepts (harmonic vs linear) in compositional and improvisational technique. These tremendously powerful concepts even appeared in the same song and albums...Later on the dichotomy...anyway...
As a huge fan of Coltrane, Davis and Evans I really just tore through this book. I too found the author's frequent repitions of his basic ideas annoying. He lays out his thesis in the first chapter, but then seems to write the rest of the book with the assumption that we have forgotten the salient points. And, he just keeps reminding us, over and over again. I found that condescending and a bit insulting.