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The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music Paperback – 1 Jul 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571245072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571245079
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

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.

From the Inside Flap

There have been many books about Miles Davis, one of the twentieth century’s 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, Davis’s 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 album’s 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 Blue’s influence on the whole course of late-twentieth-century music, which moves in surprising directions through the labyrinth of sound. Davis’s 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 Dead’s extended concert performances owed much to that strain of jazz. James Brown’s most copied riff, from ‘Cold Sweat’, was a reworking of ‘So What’. Richard Williams traces the echoes of Davis’s 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.

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By Jeremy Walton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Williams gives a detailed analysis of the genesis and recording of Kind Of Blue, the 1959 Miles Davis album which has been described as the best-selling, and most popular, jazz record of all time. Those who - like me - have fallen under its spell will find this book fascinating for the new light it sheds on how it came to be made. It's a subject which has already been covered elsewhere in "Kind of Blue": The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece and Making of Kind of Blue: Miles Davis and His Masterpiece (which were published within a year of each other at the start of this century), but this book goes further than that.

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").
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding work. Written with wonderful elegance, Richard Williams' labour of love not only sheds new light on the magic of Kind of Blue, but also identifies and explores the ripples it has had on other musical developments over subsequent years. Whether you are a jazz buff or interested in music generally, you will enjoy this immensely. It is a great source of education and a signicant literary contribution to cultural history and understanding. I strongly recommend it!
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Format: Hardcover
"The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music," concerns itself with a record that is the best-selling jazz album of all time, and the only jazz album many people own: Kind of Blue. It is now 50 years old: it was recorded in nine hours, over two days, in a disused Manhattan church, in the spring of 1959, by Miles Davis and six other musicians. And the American Congress has just honored the album as a central part of the American heritage. The book was authored by Englishman Richard Williams, who writes for "The Guardian" on music and sports and has written books on Enzo Ferrari and Bob Dylan, among other subjects. Williams, who lives in London, is a former editor of "Melody Maker" and head of A & R at Island Records.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Articulate and readable, never boring, but do we really need another book about this almost exhaustively well-documented album, which is of course as musically fascinating as ever? He does combine the necessary minimum of musical knowledge with the ability to make it comprehensible to the reasonably intelligent layman, which is something.
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.
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