on 5 August 2009
I bought this book following a recommendation form a website which raved about it. It sat next to my bed for several months after, and I resisted reading it thinking it would be a bit of a haigiography. Having just read it I think it is anything but. The author knows Miles personally, so the book includes many personal anecdotes about Miles, and has this insider feel to it. Nonetheless it is also deeply reflective about the music on Kind of Blue, about the world of "Amerika" in the late 50s, and what you might call the relationship between the albums poetics and its politics. Overall I found the book inspiring and it hugely enhanced my appreciation of the album. Like many jazz fans, Kind of Blue was one of the first jazz records I ever heard and I continue to be entranced by it, though I have heard it countless times. Nisenson gives a chapter to all the different people involved in the album; Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans and these are all very interesting. His chapter on George Russel and his harmonic theories was a complete revelation to me, and was fascinating. If you love Kind of Blue and want to know more about its context you could not go wrong with this book - the author has deep insight into the whole context of jazz in the US. I have not read the Ashley Khan book, which has almost the same title, so cannot compare, but loved this.