The Blue Moment : Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music, Paperback

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

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


'It is the most singular of sounds, yet among the most ubiquitous.

It is the sound of isolation that has sold itself to millions'.

Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" is the best selling piece of music in the history of jazz, and for many listeners among the most haunting in all of twentieth-century music.

It is also, notoriously, the only jazz album many people own.

Recorded in 1959 (in nine miraculous hours), there has been nothing like it since.

Its atmosphere - slow, dark, meditative, luminous - became all-pervasive for a generation, and has remained the epitome of melancholy coolness ever since.

Richard Williams has written a history of the album which for once does not rip it out of its wider cultural context.

He evokes the essence of the music - identifying the qualities that make it so uniquely appealing - while making effortless connections to painting, literature, philosophy and poetry.

This makes for an elegant, graceful and beautifully-written narrative.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Jazz
  • ISBN: 9780571245079



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A very fine narrative on how Kind of Blue was made - and what a digression from Miles' progression it actually is - and how it resonates and influences the next 20 years of popular music. How well you like this depends on what your musical tastes are - for me the sections following the natural path through Coltrane and freeer forms of jazz was fascinating as were the chapters on The Velvet Underground and Brian Eno. For me, I'm not so big on Terry Riley and Steve Reich so those chapters were of less interest. But its beautifully doneAnd its still amazing to me that 6 musicians walked into a small midtown Manhatten studio for 2 x 3 hour sessions in 1959 and without any rehearsal casually created a timeless masterpiece before sloping off to their day jobs, and in most cases, never playing the music again. Remarkable

Review by

This is a book about the art of making music. It takes the 'Kind of Blue' creative sessions as a focus and expands out around them. Williams understands the rhizomatic nature of art and is happy to include an extended disquisition on the history of the color blue for this reason. Sometimes his exposition is little more than a list but Williams can really write about the subjective appeal of music and the nature of original creativity. The thread drawn from 'Kind of Blue' through minimalism, the Velvet Underground and Brian Eno is fascinatingly under-explained, leaving the reader to fill in any blanks, which is as it should be.

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