The Making of Kind of Blue Miles Davis and His Masterpiece

Eric Nisenson

St. Martin's Griffin

031228408X

9780312284084

Trade Paperback

256 Pages

$18.99

CAD21.99

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Ever since it was originally released in 1959, Miles Davis's Kind of Blue has been hailed as a jazz masterpiece. To this day, it remains the bestselling jazz album of all time, selling an incredible 5,000 copies per week. Kind of Blue is a modern-day classic, an album that has long been embraced by students and scholars (and knowing fans) of all musical genres. The album also represents a watershed moment in jazz history, for it helped trigger the first great revolution the music had faced since bebop: modal jazz.

The Making of Kind of Blue is an exhaustively researched examination of how this masterpiece was born. Recorded with (among others) pianist Bill Evans, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, composer/theorists George Russell and Gil Evans, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, and Miles himself playing trumpet, the album was seen then, and is still seen today, as a fortuitous conflation of some of the real giants of the jazz world. Together these giants produced a recording that would forever change the face of American music.

Drawing on extensive interviews, a vast command of both the history and character of jazz music, and access to rare recordings, Nisenson has pieced together the whole story of this miraculous recording session. His book functions as an in-depth study of the genius of Miles Davis, as well as the genius of Kind of Blue's other musicians and, indeed, the genius of jazz itself.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Making of Kind of Blue

"A masterpiece in its own right, this work comprehensively covers Miles Davis's 1959 landmark album, Kind of Blue. Nisenson 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 . . . His analysis of the music and its importance is valuable and discerning."—Publishers Weekly

"An unusual work, combining memoir, biography, history, and musicology . . . Asute and entertaining."—Booklist

"Nisenson, who has written biographies on Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, traces the making of Davis's best-known album . . . 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 . . . An adequate companion to Kind of Blue, showing its genesis and influence."—Library Journal

"Nisenson [offers] a story that tells us much about what jazz is and can be. [This book is] 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, pop critic for Playboy and editor of Rock and Rap Confidential

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Eric Nisenson

  • 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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