August 11, 2010

Aural History

Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis MasterpieceFor fans of Miles Davis’s legendary 1959 record, and for jazz fans in general, Ashley Kahn’s Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece is a compelling read. It’s an insider’s look at people involved in the recording of this most popular of jazz records, including never-before-seen session photos. Kahn provides some historical context on Miles Davis’s development as a trumpet player from the tentative late 1940s dates with Charlie Parker, through finding his own sound in the mid-1950s with his classic quintet, and on to the development of modal jazz that blossoms forth on Kind of Blue. The book also covers the two recording sessions that produced the record, song by song, discussing the false starts, the studio conversations, and the final song versions. One really gets a vivid sense of the personalities involved - in addition to Davis, that includes John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, and Paul Chambers. There’s also coverage of Columbia Records marketing of the record and a look at its lasting legacy in the jazz world. This “recordography” of Kind of Blue will have you listening to this LP with renewed appreciation for the artistry behind it.

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