The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music Paperback – 1 Jul 2010
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The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and Remaking of Modern Music by Richard Williams is the essential companion to one of the most influential albums of all time.
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There have been many books about Miles Davis, one of the twentieth centurys most protean musical figures, but The Blue Moment is unlike any other work on the subject. Richard Williams takes as his starting point the making of Kind of Blue, Daviss most celebrated album, and shows how movements in art, philosophy and music fed into this meditative, melancholy masterpiece, first released in 1959. The haunting palettes of Picasso, Matisse and Yves Klein influenced the mood of a culture that valued the colour blue so highly; and the blues, mediated by jazz and other kinds of music, had become the sound that signified coolness. Williams tells the story of albums creation in miraculously few hours in a converted Manhattan church and elegantly sketches the roles of the other five musicians who played on the recording. This is then the foundation for an ambitious exploration of Kind of Blues influence on the whole course of late-twentieth-century music, which moves in surprising directions through the labyrinth of sound. Daviss album was profoundly influential on his bandmate John Coltrane, and they both haunted the avant-garde composers Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Lamonte Young, who in turn were responsible for transmitting that influence into rock music, touching artists as diverse as John Cale and the Velvet Underground, The Who, Soft Machine, Brian Eno and early Roxy Music, and Talking Heads and U2. The Allman Brothers reworked passages from Kind of Blue in their long improvised jams; and the Grateful Deads extended concert performances owed much to that strain of jazz. James Browns most copied riff, from Cold Sweat, was a reworking of So What. Richard Williams traces the echoes of Daviss creation in the enduring success of the German ECM label, whose reverberant, brooding sound has defined the work of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Jan Garbarek, and in the static, minimalist music of bands such as Supersilent and The Necks. This is a beautifully crafted journey through some of the most important music of our time. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Specifically, it traces the influence of "Kind Of Blue" on the music that followed it: at first explicitly in the subsequent work of Davis's collaborators (particularly Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley), and then ranging further afield. This latter part of the book - which touches on artists like John Cale, Brian Eno, Steve Reich, James Brown, Duane Allman and others - is the most intriguing, and perhaps open to debate. For example, I've read elsewhere - but not here - that Richard Wright was strongly influenced by this record at the time of the writing of Dark Side of the Moon (most explicitly in the use of a 7#9 chord in "Breathe").Read more ›
Other books have covered Davis's life, and the creation of this particular record, but few have done so in the depth Williams does. He looks at the cultural zeitgeist of the late 1950's, and explains how Davis was influenced by the prevailing winds of the time; he examines the influence of the French Impressionist composers, such as Claude Debussy, Gabriel Faure and Maurice Ravel, of whose music Davis was very fond (as am I; they are my favorite composers, but I never knew Davis also particularly liked them.) He then goes on to trace the influence of this seminal record, in jazz; art rock, such as that of John Cale, The Velvet Underground, or Brian Eno; and on the current classical school of minimalism, works written by such composers as Steve Reich and John Adams.
Williams writes well and gracefully, in crisp stylish prose. He's evidently very knowledgeable about music, and has, furthermore, evidently done a lot of research.Read more ›
Can Miles Davis, moreover, be held responsible for the works of Brian Eno, the ECM label, let alone Charlatan Palestine? I'm not sure that I'm convinced by his case here.
I've read so may books about music that are full of factual errors, misattributions, inaccurate dates, mis-spellings of names etc. Yet I only located one here:- he talks about the October revolution in jazz (Bill Dixon, Jazz composers' guild etc.) happening in 1968; it was actually 1964. The "best-selling jazz album ever" is more debatable, and no doubt involves some playing with statistics, but I've often been led to believe it was Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters." (Of course some people might not want that classified as jazz.)
If money is no object, why not buy this? But I think many people will be content to borrow it from a library, or elsewhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
it is a great read. goes much wider than just kind of blue so if you are a purist you may not like it. otherwise it is wonderful. Read morePublished 7 months ago by bunk
Very well researched and written. One of the best books I have read on music. A must for jazz fansPublished on 18 May 2014 by Mike Allen
'Kind Of Blue' by Miles Davis is one of my favourite jazz albums and this book tells the story of how it was made, the musicians who collaborated to make it happen, the album's... Read morePublished on 5 Oct. 2012 by David Lusher
My fantasy, self-indulgent funeral centres on two songs, a poem and a piece of music: Joni's The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey, Drive-By Truckers' Daddy's Cup, Shelley's Ozymandias... Read morePublished on 5 Mar. 2011 by therealus
Miles Davis's 'Kind of Blue' album was the first jazz record I ever bought. Little did I know, at the time that this mirrored most other peoples' experience - many of whom have... Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2011 by Alan Lenton