Stuff of Legends: Miles and Co. and Kind of Blue
Some of his points are well thought out and insightful. Others lead to head scratching. It is disconcerting throughout, that Nisenson often makes self aggrandizing references to his other books, speaks in “I was thinking...” and “I always feel...” tones, rather than letting the story unfold for the reader. And, like his book on Coltrane, some of his comments are off the wall. He is knowledgeable, yes, and provides some good information, but he lacks as a writer. His lecturing at times is annoying and his conjecture about music can be baffling. After writing an entire book on Coltrane (which is also speckled with his pontifications) he now professes that ’Trane may have been just a self-indulgent musician.
Nisenson opines that letting Cannonball play on “Flamenco Sketches” was an egregious error (He would know more about it than one of the great musical minds of humankind who hired Adderley and ran the sessions?) At another point, he states that no one knows how Evans began a heroin addict, “but it was almost certainly [through] Philly Jo Jones.” Sure, there is no slander when both individuals are dead, but it is a large aspersion to cast without evidence, even though Jones (one of Miles’ greatest drummers) was a longtime junkie.
Nisenson’s book is also devoid of any photos at all, so is visually bland in comparison.
Both authors skillfully portray how mystifying, and yet how wonderful, the mellow, moody and provocative “Kind of Blue” is to this day, and how it is of immense historic importance.
The choice? Well, for the best perspective, it always good to read both the conservative New York Post and the liberal-leaning New York Times. Both these books have value. If you’re only going to read one, Kahn’s even viewpoint, broad range of research, better narrative style and the slick packaging wins the day.