You know Miles Davis's 1959 LP "Kind of Blue." Even if you don't like jazz, you've heard it. Even if you don't know that you've heard it, you have. And -- trust me on this -- you liked it.
"Kind of Blue" has sold more copies than any other jazz recording in history, and over 50 years later, it's still selling. Listeners love its gentle colors and grooves. Musicians from Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea to James Brown to Talking Heads have learned from it.
Yesterday on National Public Radio's program "All Things Considered," host Guy Raz talked to writer Richard Williams about his new book "The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's 'Kind of Blue' and the Remaking of Modern Music." Raz called the book "a kind of love letter to a record," and that seems right to me -- a sharp, incisive, beautifully written love letter. The conversation is terrific, and you can hear it by clicking on the arrow below.
I first heard "Kind of Blue" when I was in my teens. I bought the LP then, too. I still have that record, but it's too worn to play. When I finish with this post, I'll put on the CD.
By the way, many people, including most of my students, think of jazz as music for the middle-aged. It's worth remembering that Miles was 32 when he recorded this LP. The great Bill Evans, who plays piano on most of the tracks, was 25.
Update -- Mothers' Day, Sunday, 9 May 2010: This morning, following my church's long-standing tradition, the ushers handed out fresh carnations to every mother in the congregation. It occurred to me that if Brother Miles had been at the service, he would have received a flower, too. He was one bad ....