Too Much Kind of Blue? The Case for Giving Overexposed Masterworks a Rest
*Absolutely worth a read this holiday weekend. Hope everyone is doing well!
Richard Williams recently wrote a book called The Blue Moment: Miles Davis Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music. I haven't yet read Mr. Williams study of the great jazz trumpeters best-known album, and to be perfectly honest, I doubt I'm going to do so. Why? Because this is, amazingly enough, the third book about Kind of Blue to be published in the past decade. It comes in the wake of Ashley Kahn's Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece and Eric Nisenson's The Making of Kind of Blue: Miles Davis and His Masterpiece, whose titles are so similar as to make me wonder what their publishers could possibly have been thinking.
Like most of us, I adore the biggest-selling and most influential album in the history of jazz. Kind of Blue is a masterpiece if ever there was one, and as such it surely deserves to be the subject of three different books, assuming that they're worth reading. But it has also become culturally ubiquitous to a degree that borders on the comical. You can hear Kind of Blue in restaurants, in waiting rooms and on elevators. It's the record that Clint Eastwood (who knows a lot about jazz) puts on when he comes home from a hard day of assassin-hunting in In the Line of Fire. People who don't know anything else about jazz own a copy, and some of them even play it from time to time. It is, in short, too much with us, and I suspect that its ubiquity has made it harder than it ought to be for most of us to appreciate how good Kind of Blue really is. Text by Terry Teachout