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Ashley Kahn is an award-winning journalist and radio essayist, and is the author of The House That 'Trane Built, and A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album. He lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Keyboard, 3/09 "Amazing."
Arguably one of a handful of full-length album jazz masterpieces, Kind of Blue has steadily grown in reputation since its 1959 conception. Structurally, the book resembles an hourglass; the many events leading up to the actual recording session are finely timed and sculpted. Kahn, music editor at VH-1 and editor of Rolling Stone: The Seventies, details how Miles Davis assembled the skills and experiences of the seven musicians, as well as the studio and record company personnel, and funneled their attention on the six musical sketches he brought to the studio that day. With minimal rehearsal (and a single alternate take on one of the six pieces), they created what ultimately was released as Kind of Blue. At the bottom of the hourglass is the tremendous effect the album has had, told in a lively voice. This fascinating look into the minds of master musicians and the creation of exceptional, timeless music is recommended for academic, public, and music libraries.DWilliam Kenz, Univ. of Minnesota Moorhead Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.