The Making of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece

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From the moment it was recorded more than 40 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 musical 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,...

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Overview

From the moment it was recorded more than 40 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 musical 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 interviews and access to rare recordings 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.

Author Bio: 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A masterpiece in its own right, this work comprehensively covers Miles Davis's 1959 landmark album, Kind of Blue. Nisenson (Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest, etc.) leaves no note unexamined and no background detail undiscussed in his tribute to the bestselling jazz album of all time. His strength lies in his dedication to set the recording in its social, cultural and historical context. Davis was nearing the end of his bop period when he began the Kind of Blue project, and the work was eventually hailed as a turning point in jazz history, signaling the rise of space-giving modal jazz and a new approach to the genre. The bulk of Nisenson's text discusses Blue's musicians, and his minibiographies of each may be regarded as necessary or unfocused, depending on one's degree of interest. He deconstructs the legend of pianist Bill Evans and delves into his controversial playing style, spends an entire chapter on the often-overlooked alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly and provides great detail on musical theorist George Russell's contribution to the album's Lydian focus. Only in the book's final third does Nisenson finally review the Blue recording sessions, and his coverage of them is somewhat minimal compared with all that precedes it. Nonetheless, his analysis of the music and its importance is valuable and discerning. This book has a different take than Kahn's Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece (Forecasts, Aug. 21) in that it does not spend nearly as much time on the album itself, focusing instead on everything that led up to it and its tremendous repercussions. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Nisenson, who has written biographies on Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, traces the making of Davis's best-known album, Kind of Blue. The famed musicians, including Davis, Coltrane, Gil Evans, Cannonball Aderley, Bill Evans, and Paul Chambers, are shown arriving, musically and otherwise, at the sessions for what is generally considered one of the most influential albums of any genre of all time. Nisenson demonstrates his familiarity with the performers and their styles, although some of the material on theorist George Russell's modal theories is sketchy and somewhat confusing. Throughout, readers will sense the author's love of Davis's masterstroke, which is at times tainted by his tendency to quote casual conversations with the trumpeter and to quote from his own previous work. While fans might want more detailed critical analysis of the individual tracks on the album, Nisenson's book is an adequate companion to Kind of Blue, showing its genesis and influence. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries, as well as jazz fans.--James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312266172
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.86 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2001

    An inside look at the biggest selling jazz recording of all time...

    I enjoyed how the author demonstrates, step by step, the dyamics behind the making of Kind of Blue. The times, the musicians, the concept of the recording, how all the elements came together and the impact it has had on future generations. Kind of Blue is still the biggest selling jazz recording of all time! After reading this book, you will realize why the recording is so influential in the history of jazz. A timeless recording and a fascinating read!

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