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Kind Of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  652 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Jazz musicians call it The Bible. Critics call it the one jazz album every fan must own. Forty-one years since its recording in 1959, it has sold millions worldwide and sits near the top of any list of most important records of the century. How did two impromptu sessions produce such a timeless acknowledged masterpiece?Now, for the first time, Ashley Kahn takes us into the ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 224 pages
Published September 19th 2000 by Da Capo Press (first published 2000)
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Mar 28, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of Blue has sold 7 million copies (albeit in 50 years), making it the best-selling jazz album of all time. Far from being a safe commercial work, KoB broke new ground by introducing new structures to jazz. Perhaps the trick was that Miles discarded complex chord structures for simple vamps that frame endless (yet hypnotic) solos by John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderly. Kahn recreated this session blow by blow although the only living player on the scene was drummer Jimmy Cobb, w ...more
Mar 28, 2010 Herzog rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
A very attractive book which was well constructed. Providing the background for the seminal work was quite engrossing and the description of the work itself very interesting. I thought the chapter on the long lasting influence of Kind of Blue was also well done. All in all a very useful book for fans of the album.
James Martin
Dec 01, 2015 James Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a perfect world, every album I love would receive the sort of treatment that Ashley Kahn gives to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Kahn's book is 200 pages of impeccably well researched liner notes to one of the best jazz albums of all time. It's full of wonderful anecdotes, interviews, session tape dialogs, photos, and every other sort of historical context that brings Kind of Blue to life in a quite unprecedented way. Like all truly good criticism, Kahn's study leaves you with an enhanced underst ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This extensively researched book opens a big window into a decade or more of American popular music, when Top 40 charts embraced everything from novelty songs to Elvis and Doris Day, and jazz performers commanded their own share of a vast audience. Sound recording technology had recently introduced LPs and stereo to consumers, and the music industry was booming. It was at this point, the late 1950s, that the young trumpet player Miles Davis stepped onto the stage and emerged as an influential in ...more
Aug 01, 2010 CyLarge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jazz
This book is great for so many reasons, but I'd have to say the best reason is because of how good a writer Kahn shows himself to be. Out of all the books on music I've read, this is the most crisp clear, fluidly written book. He explains a little music theory and Miles' modal method of thinking with no pretention and such precision that the quality of the writing itself rivals the excitement of the Kind of Blue recording process, which he also details very, very well. Very worth reading for any ...more
Dec 24, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book twice. I am going to read it again this coming week. I came across it when I was weeding through some books to donate to the library after the holidays. This is one of many books I would never let anyone borrow. Kind of Blue was one of the first jazz LP's (before CD's) I purchased at a very young age.
Apr 19, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange enough (due to my perverse tastes) not my favorite Miles album, but still a classic, and this book nails down the history and the thoughts behind this specific album. Beautifully designed and well-thought out, this is a great volume on a particular piece of art and it's appreciation of that work.
Jan 10, 2012 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
A very enjoyable look at the most revered jazz album of all time. I think the author did a nimble job at making the material accessible for non-musicians, though it does get technical from time to time. When I finished the book, I had a pretty good sense of why Kind of Blue was so important.
Victoria Moore
I don't remember the first time I heard "Kind Of Blue", or how many times I've listened to it since, but I do know it's become my favorite jazz album. A funny thing happened the last time i listened to it, I became intrigued with how it was created and why it struck such an emotional chord with me. When I checked out Ashley Kahn's book "Kind Of Blue: The Making Of The Miles Davis Masterpiece" from my favorite library I wasn't sure if I'd get the answers to the many questions I had about the alb ...more
Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece is Ashley Kahn's chronicle of the recording sessions of that great jazz album made possible when Sony opened the Columbia archives to him in 1999.

Kahn begins the book with an overview of Miles' career from his entrance into the scene in the mid-1940s to the end of the hard bop era in the mid-1950s. This is followed by coverage of Davis' early work with Columbia Records, the discovery of modality, and the departures of his drummer and pianis
May 05, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid and informative read about the creation of a classic jazz album. Lots of wonderful details to eat up if you are a fan of jazz. I can't really find a flaw with this book, other than that there is a slightly disorienting approach to inserting some mini-chapters about various aspects of the album's production into the flow of a larger narrative. I found myself having to read a ways, flip back to read one of these inserts, and then page forward again. It was disruptive to the otherwise engagin ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Brandon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy jazz writers - scholarly, articulate storytelling. "The Making Of..." details not only the creation of one of the best albums ever produced, but also a study of Miles Davis' career and relationships with the musicians he worked with. After reading, repeated listens of Kind of Blue required!
Jul 27, 2014 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kind of Blue is one of those albums that's like a vitamin to me - go too long without, and I feel malnourished.

This book breaks it down in glorious detail - the recording, the players, the time, the impact.

Winter Sophia Rose
General Appreciation Of Classic Jazz!
Sep 04, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jazz music fan
Shelves: art-and-music
This a really nice background information for the Kind of Blue Album and how Miles Davis formed the band that recorded the music. And like the book says it more of tribute to an ending of an era rather than a start to a new jazz age. However, many of the modern jazz has it roots to this album and warns that young musician need to have solid music education before trying to go into modal improvisations. Would recommend this book to anyone who has interest in music, history, and jazz.
Sep 03, 2013 Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tend to stay away from books like this, preferring to leave the music to speak for itself. But this book really illuminated what is still my favourite jazz album ever. (I try to avoid "bests", but sometimes you just know.) This is like a VH1 Behind The Music on steroids, in book form. The album speaks to me on different levels after having read this. In a good way.
Jul 27, 2009 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book about an important album. Great history, great perspective from 40 years later, etc. If you love this album you should read this book. If you haven't heard the album buy the book and the album and enjoy them both simultaneously - there's much to learn about this period in american recorded music and of Jazz in particular.
Rob the Obscure
Apr 16, 2009 Rob the Obscure rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very insightful, well-researched, and well-written account of this landmark record by Miles. It is obvious that the author is not merely writing for purposes of scholarship - he has a passionate love for the subject, as do I, and therefore recommend this book highly to anyone interested in the history of American music as an art form.
A meaty, enthusiastic examination of the Miles Davis/Bill Evans masterpiece, covering everything from music theory to recording techniques and beyond. Though well-written and researched, the book is somewhat hampered by the lack of first-hand reports (drummer Jimmy Cobb, sole survivor of the 1959 sessions, being a noteable exception).
Jul 29, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, music, jazz, favorites
Fascinating, engaging, lets you inside the making of one of jazz's greatest albums. The transcripts of the studio banter (much of which can be found on expanded editions of the album) are gold, as are the quotes from those who were around the recording sessions. A must-have for any fan of the album.
Jon Tutcher
Feb 03, 2014 Jon Tutcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic insight into my favourite album of all time. Got recommended it by a musician friend, and it really makes you appreciate the circumstances and scene in NY at the time 'Kind of Blue' was made (and the history leading up to then). Very easy to read too - would recommend to anyone into music!
Apr 29, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, jazz
A very fine account of the making of one of the greatest and most influential jazz recordings of all time. Where they recorded, how many takes, who played what, transcribed incidental conversations that were recorded during the sessions... great stuff for the fan.
Oct 05, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're not a big jazz fan -- and maybe even if you are -- this book is a wonderful look into Miles Davis and what led up to the production of a truly great jazz album. Read the book; get the CD. You won't be sorry.
Sep 07, 2009 Diener rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Fairly interesting story behind the making of this great album. Miles is one of my favorites, and I find myself inspired my his hard work, creativity, and vision, all of which is documented in this book.
Oct 20, 2008 Lindsay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me better appreciate the music and provided some history on the jazz musicians of the times, and of course on Miles Davis. I would only recommend it to hardcore Miles fans though.
May 11, 2012 Ingo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy reader which gives a nice overview over the field, and probably serves well to look up this or that when you are not a medicinal chemist, but have to interact with them on and off.
May 21, 2011 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit disappointing -- didn't seem to give a lot of insight beyond what's readily available elsewhere (a lot is lifted from Miles' autobiography, for instance).
Sep 16, 2012 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read if you like the masterpiece. My good friend D.J. shared a CD of outtakes that really help to understand how this was created.
Leroy Rodriguez
Sep 12, 2015 Leroy Rodriguez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re read this great work. A reflection of a Time when Music really made a difference and wasn't being used to sell something.
Jul 27, 2009 Zhaawano rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miles Davis has always been my (musical) hero. I enjoy reading it (haven't finished it yet) and I like the graphical design.
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Ashley Kahn is an American music historian, journalist, and producer.
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