This interview was first published at All About Jazz in November 2000 and is part of our ongoing effort to archive pre-database material.
Ashley Kahn, the author of Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
(Da Capo Press, 224 pgs.), is Music Editor at VH1, and was the primary editor of Rolling Stone: The Seventies
as well as the primary contributor to Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide
. He has contributed articles to The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Mojo, and lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The forward to Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
is by Jimmy Cobb
. Kahn spoke from his home in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Portions of this interview were broadcast along with music from Miles Davis's recordings Kind of Blue
over Blue Lake Public Radio's "Jazz a la Carte" with Lazaro Vega on October 28, 2000. All About Jazz
: After reading Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
one of the things I came away with was that this is a great compendium of information gleaned from Jack Chamber's books, Milestones 1 & 2,
Ian Carr's biography and Miles's autobiography with Quincy Troupe. What you've done is telescoped much of the information from those sources into 180 pages plus footnotes and index. For people who haven't gone to the lengths of research on Miles as you have, obviously, and others have as well, you've provided a primer on his career that maybe they wouldn't have had so easily before. Ashley Kahn:
If I might comment on that, I agree with that to a certain degree. However, there's a lot of primary source material in my book, too. I not only wanted to rely on the excellent job, of course, that Jack Chambers, Ian Carr, etc., have done in the past, but also to try and do something that I think biographies, when they give you this deluge of information, sometimes miss. And that's a flavor and the personality of not just the person but of the time. So what I attempted to doand in the end spoke with about 50 different people, musicians, producers, and witnesses of that time in the late fifties when Kind of Blue
was recordedwas to try and use Kind of Blue
as a window back on to 1959. What was happening with jazz? What was happening to music in general? Where was Miles? Where was his head? Where was his reputation at that time? To try and basically give you the zeitgeist of what 1959 was like. AAJ:
Yes. I didn't get a chance to add that the original interviews you did are fantastic. I really enjoyed reading Jimmy Cobb's comments, and the statements of the engineers you were able to dig up, and also the Pop musicians, Donald Fagan of Steely Dan, and jazz musician Warren Bernhardt
from Chicago. AK:
Yes! Well, Kind of Blue
is one of those rare jazz albums that totally defy its category. It says, 'No, I'm not just a jazz album; I'm a music album.' And it shows both in the musicians and the music makers who have totally embraced this album and allowed it to influence their own sound, and also the music buying public out there. You do not have to be a jazz fan; you do not have to be a knowledgeable jazz expert to enter into this world that Kind of Blue
presents. That's one of the whole reasons for doing the book. AAJ:
The book will appeal as well to a wide variety of readers because of that, and because you did dip into the popular music world, the world of studio technology, the world of record-label politics. There are many different strains going on. AK:
In a lot of jazz books, unfortunately, you either get a really dry academic tone, or you get the usual hit after hit sort of approach to the biography time-line. So you don't get a feel for whether he's going up hill here, is he at the top of the hill? Or is this just another moment in his career?
What I really wanted to do was get a feel for the fact that Kind of Blue
is a real pinnacle, an incredible creative statement, and a risk-taking by Miles. (It's) A turning the corner where by 1959 he was a very established artist, he could have just rested on his laurels as many jazz artists whose music I know and love very much have done in the past, and have total respect of their peers and of the jazz world in general. Miles defied that.
Miles wanted to attempt something new. And the first time he really did that, and went into the studio and said, 'No, I'm not going to do something like I've done before, I'm going to try a new style of music, I'm going to create and compose it as much in the studio as I have done beforehand, and take that chance' that is Kind of Blue
and that's what Kind of Blue
was. It set the pattern for the way he would approach music making, especially in the studio, for the rest of his career. AAJ:
Herbie Hancock makes that clear in the interview segments that you used, and I think anyone who's followed his discography would see that change as well, that it was a defining moment for him. As it was a defining moment in music as you talked about how different artists in jazz were restless with the recurring cycle of chords and wanted to break out of the pop song structure. AK:
Exactly. How many times can you do Cole Porter or Gershwin numbers, which are fantastic numbers to do anyway? But there is a point where jazz musicians wanted to break out and do their own music. I should add, however, that we're talking about Kind of Blue
as a career watershed: in addition it's an unbelievable musical statement. Again, you do not have to have jazz knowledge. You don't even have to know any of the jazz lore or the history of Miles Davis's career to totally embrace and totally dive-in to the music itself. AAJ:
It's very accessible because of its mood. I remember a couple of stories. At the opening of the book you were saying everybody has story about Kind of Blue. AK:
(Laughing). It's unbelievable. Everybody really does. AAJ:
Years ago I laid a copy of this on a woman who was living in a small town here in Michigan that I really liked. She was an earth-mother type, a graduate of Michigan State's horticulture program who had her own garden service. She was a striking Swedish woman. She knew I was on the radio doing jazz, so I thought I'd give her an LP copy of Kind of Blue
to impress her. She responded, "This is bachelor-pad music." That was her summation of the whole record. I couldn't get past it. AK:
(Laughing). That's so funny. One of my favorite quotes in the book, and there are so many to choose from and there is only so much room in a book to put them in, but is from a very established jazz critic whose approach was always dry and academic but who always hit the mark. I really love his writing. But it defines a certain style. You really do have to be part of the jazz cognoscenti, or at least have one foot moving in that direction to appreciate his writing. He says exactly that. He says the trick to Kind of Blue
and Miles at that period, in the late fifties and the music he was making, is that at low volume it's unbelievable audio wall paper. It's so sophisticated it's perfect party music, or bachelor-pad music as your friend said. But turn it up and you get great art. For those who are willing to do focused listening on the album, it serves both purposes. AAJ:
It does. There are many sides to it. And that moment you talked about on "So What" when Jimmy Cobb hits that cymbal... I always thought that was a sizzle cymbal he hit, the cymbal with the rivets in it so when it's struck it has that long beautiful delayed fade-out as the band comes in underneath.
That is one of the most dramatic moments on the record, but it is so subtle. AK:
I would venture to say it's one of the most dramatic moments in jazz, period. On "So What," just as Miles starts his solo. It's the equivalent of Steve McQueen in "Bullet" clicking his safety belt, his seat belt, and you know this incredible chase scene is just about to start. Or in a movie theater when the lights go out. That magic moment is worth the whole price of admission, just there. Just for that.
Thankfully Jimmy Cobb is around to speak about that. And of course he is so incredibly humble about it. He said, "Well, we just made a nice jazz record." It's like Herbie Hancock says in the book, it really makes the whole album when that cymbal shot happens. AAJ:
Jimmy Cobb hooked up with the Yamaha Corporation of America, Band and Orchestral Division, here in Grand Rapids when he came through in the 1990's with the Nat Adderley band. AK:
Any type of support, corporate or otherwise, for these musicians who are out there still doing it (is good). Jimmy Cobb, of course, is part of this landmark masterpiece, but he still has to go out there and gig to put food on the table. So that's great to hear Yamaha sees the value in putting their name behind Jimmy. AAJ:
The other thing I wanted to let you know about was that when this Columbia box set came out with the complete Miles Davis and John Coltrane
, including Kind of Blue,
the Wallace Roney
band was in Grand Rapids for a public concert and a private party the next night at a person's house.
Before the party they were relaxing in the basement listening to music on the stereo. Lenny White
, Geri Allen
, Charles Fambrough
, Wallace Roney and a tenor player named Steve Hall. Those folks are in this basement library listening to "So What" and Lennie White is sitting on the arm of a stuffed leather chair acting like he's holding a tenor saxophone up to play, singing John Coltrane's solo. Everybody is giving skin and high fives after certain phrases. They were having a blast. AK:
Well, I'm telling you. The way that people quote Bible verse for verse, it's no kidding that for jazz musicians Kind of Blue
is the Bible. And they can sing every solo. That is the primer for every jazz musician, and still is 41 years later. I challenge anyone to find another album that has that effect 41 years later. AAJ:
One of the things I really enjoyed in your book was the George Russell
thread. George Russell
is recognized as a theorist and an intriguing recording artist who was there with Dizzy on Cubano Be Cubano Bop,
dealing with Lydian concepts and the formal aspect of modality, theorizing on that and putting it down on paper. He is very influential and maybe not a lot of people realize that. AK:
He was also the lynchpin between Bill Evans
and Miles Davis. Kind of Blue
really is, also, the Valentine that came out of the very short period, only eight months, when Bill Evans and Miles Davis were working together. AAJ:
I appreciate his presence and comments. Also, I learned "Walking'" is "Weirdo" is Gene Ammons' "Gravy." That was really happy to learn Gene Ammons
recording "Gravy" was "Walking.'" I kind of knew "Weirdo" was, I have that on the Blue Note album. Of course "Sid's Ahead" you mention later. I appreciated that, and the links you make with his recordings in the back end of the book, as well. AK:
The source notes part is really there for the jazznics, you know? The front part of the book I really wanted to be inviting and open to any type of music enthusiast, but I don't want it to get bogged down in detail. So for those who do appreciate the details like you're describing, it's all in the footnote section. (Laughing) I'm glad you found it. AAJ:
You know, I don't think Miles Davis' autobiography was really autobiographical at times. You did use a quote from it, on page 38, it's a quote about "Walking'" where Miles is alleged to have said he wanted to use Kenny Clarke
instead of Art Blakey
because Kenny does the brushes thing. I noticed that when I read the autobiography, too, because Kenny Clarke does not play brushes on "Walkin'" or "Blue and Boogie." He doesn't play brushes at all on that session and I don't think Miles would say he did because Miles was so attuned to musical detail. I doubt he'd just forget. (ED: The actual dubious quote from Miles autobiography is "Kenny Clarke replaced Art Blakey on drums because I wanted that brush stroke thing. When it came to playing soft brush strokes on the drums, nobody could do it better than Klook [Kenny Clarke]. I was using a mute on that date and I wanted a soft thing behind me, but a swing soft thing." Davis plays with an open horn throughout "Walkin'"). AK:
Yeah, yeah. Here's the thing: unfortunately Miles is not with us anymore. I think the most important part of it is that he wanted Kenny Clarke, for a certain reason, whether it was brushes or not. The whole thing about "Walkin'" was it was the theme of hard bop. That's the ultimate statement for hard bop of its time: one foot in the blues, one foot in bebop. That type of bringing Lucky Thompson and Kenny Clarke together with J.J. Johnson
and Horace Silver
was exactly what he was trying to doget a balance of the bebop veterans with the younger, bluesier roots players. That was the formula that would later get distilled and turn into "Kind of Blue." AAJ:
Also, it's too bad the studio chatter from the Christmas Eve 1954 session isn't available on the CD reissues. Miles said he wanted that on the original LPs, I've heard that, but it's not on the complete Prestige Recordings. AK:
For your listeners we should say that is an incredible moment in jazz lore, when Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis got together on Christmas Eve and recorded an incredible number of tunes such as when Miles really kicked it into gear, such as you're suggesting. AAJ:
"Bags Groove," "The Man I Love," and "Bemsha Swing" (Ed: Unmentioned between us and recorded that day one of Davis' first scalar (modal) compositions, "Swing Spring"). Do you know if Miles 1955 Newport appearance is available on CD? AK:
I did my research and I was told about that being available audio-wise. Never was able to find it. (Ed: Further research exposed the 1994 CD release Miscellaneous Davis 1955-1957
on Jazz Unlimited JUCD 2050). I was told that there's some sort of very primitive video of the 1958-Miles sextet band with Bill Evans in it. That was shot in Philadelphia. Paul Bley told me about that, and no, I've never been able to find that, either. AAJ:
One of the things I thought you did a really good job with is talking about how Ornette Coleman
came to the same place in music where he wanted to get past the harmonic cycle of chords and not be so responsible to that as an improviser, but instead forge his own idea of blues phrase syntax. I thought you dealt with that well. I was waiting for you to deal with it and I was glad when I got into the back part of the book, not the foot notes but the narrative after Kind of Blue,
you really went into that. And you really covered where jazz was.
But I thought one point you might have elaborated on was that like Kind of Blue
Ornette's way of going out was actually going back. He went back to the blues. The blues as a form before W.C. Handy was very open. A musician with a guitar would play whatever phrase length he wanted to: 4 bars, 8 bars, 6 bars. AK:
13 and... AAJ:
You know what I'm saying? AK:
And W.C. Handy came along and said, listen, if we're going to play
music together we can't do that. AK:
So it's 12 or it's 32, or it's... AK:
I think what you're referring to here is collective improvisation in general. AAJ:
No, what I was going to say, and it's a point that you did make, Ornette decided his phrase lengths and syntax would be determined by what he had to say. And that to me is the blues. He went back to that earlier form of the blues before W.C. Handy standardized them, and he said that's how I'm going to make my jazz improvisations, not necessarily by reporting on the chord changes. I thought you could have tied that in to what Miles' was doing on Kind of Blue. AK:
You know what, that's a very interesting comment, and there are interviews that I've read with Ornette where he refers to country blues. He doesn't refer to any blues men by name, I wish, you know, if he was talking about Lightning Hopkins or even more, I hate to use the word 'primitive,' but more un-schooled blues musicians like Robert Pete Williams or someone like that. I would love to know if Ornette was hip to the very loose approach to the blues that is all about individual expression. AAJ:
I think he is. That was the point I'm making. AK:
You know what? Knowing how just all encompassing he is in his taste I would not be surprised. I totally agree with what you're saying. The point I think I was really trying to make was in 1959 the jazz world was ready to explode with change and that Miles was not alone. Miles' approach to change happened in such an under whelming way. Very influential, unbelievably influential especially when you consider the effect that the album that was certainly his watershed album of that period still has 40 years later. I'm talking about Kind of Blue.
But the sound of jazz revolution in 1959 it was, I mean, Ornette owned that. When he came to New York and opened up at the Five Spot in November of 1959 it set the whole jazz world on fire. The coming of free jazz and the fact that you could make beautiful music as collectively improvised, and really stretch out the rhythm and melody structure, just break open the structure of jazz, was Ornette's contribution. AAJ:
And Miles, and Sun Ra
and Cecil Taylor
Exactly. It's funny, though, because Miles I don't think ever left behind totalI mean the way that Ornette and Sun Ra and Cecil did, the throwing out the baby with the bathwater type of idea. Like we're going to leave everything behind. Miles never wanted to burn the bridge behind him.
There's a couple of comments that I quote where he seems to be saying from as late as 1969/1970 when the sound of Ornette has become very established and people like Albert Ayler and Coltrane's explorations have followed in Ornette's wake, and Miles makes the comment, "We have to meet in a room, and that room has to have walls." You know? Blah blah blah. So he never totally embraced that sort of departure from melodic structure. AAJ:
No he didn't. At the same time he dissed Eric Dolphy
, but then later on he had Benny Maupin
playing a bass clarinet in his band playing much like Dolphy did. It was hard to understand him sometimes, or hard to read him with that later in his career. Many of the things he did seemed to be influenced by what Trane did later on. It was modal and deeply African. AK:
I love that moment that Paul Bley describes where Paul, of course, is
in New York. He was part of the L.A. scene and Ornette and him were in the
same band. AAJ:
At the Hillcrest Club. AK:
Exactly. There's Paul at the Five Spot (in New York) and Miles walks in. And Paul describes it as Miles acting as if he just happened to be in the neighborhood to grab a beer. 'Oh, here's the Five Spot, let me go in here.' And Miles is listening to Ornette, but he's not even facing the stage. He's like talking with a bar tender. But of course there's got to be some listening going on as he's checking out what Ornette is doing.
Although he might have dissed Ornette, dissed Eric Dolphy and the coming of free jazz publicly and in words, there definitely was an influence. That was part of Miles's genius, anyway. Is that he would listen to the full gamut of sound out there and pick and choose different players and styles, etcetera, and encompass it into his music. AAJ:
I really appreciate the work you did to show us what the Columbia 30th Street Studio was like. I had a friend of mine who made a record there in the 1970's with Roscoe Mitchell. It's called "The Maze." On Nessa Records.
It's a double LP set and you open it up and there's big gatefold color picture of the inside of the Columbia 30th Street Studio taken by Chuck's wife Ann Nessa. She went up on scaffolding above so you can see all of these percussion instruments. AK:
Wow, I'm going to have to try and find this. AAJ:
Oh yeah, he's in Whitehall, Michigan. Chuck is really proud, a proud man to have worked in that studio because that parquet floor and those vaulted ceilings and those micro-phones and that equipment made for a very important place in a musical history of America. AK:
That's the type of stuff that really should be enshrined as well, along with all the biographical detail, say, of what Miles is going through.
What you're describing is exactly what the engineers. Unfortunately when you put something in print, unless you actually say it, you can't really suggest the emotional intensity that Quincy Jones still has for that studio. When he praises the wooden interior and the quality of the reverb that the room offered, it's almost like he's talking about his first girlfriend. (Laughs). AAJ:
It was really an important place, and no other records sound like those records sound. Joe Morello's drums on "Take Five" sound so good. And so did the band with Miles anytime he was in there. And so did Horowitz, or whoever else who might have been in there. They probably had, what, 10 or 15 Steinway pianos to pick from? AK:
Well Columbia actually owned Steinway by the early sixties. They had a
very intense and intimate relationship with the company. It was funny
talking to the engineers and having one engineer saying, "Oh yeah we had two
or three to choose from, but there was one that was always the jazz piano.
And that was the one that Dave Brubeck beat the s---out of, you know?" That was what Bill Evans played and this piano is still around in New York somewhere. I love little clues and little detective stories this book allowed me to follow.
I'll tell you one other story about one of the engineers I talked to. It turns out he lives five minutes away from me here in New Jersey. He was amazed that anyone wanted to talk to him, and invited me over. We sat and talked for a while and he said, 'Hang on, hang on. I'll be right back.' He disappears and he goes downstairs, and he comes up from the basement. He had saved one of the knobs from the mixing board. And he had this in a shoebox with a velvet interior to it, and he brought it up as if it was a holy relic. I guess for him it was. He offered it to me and let me look at it for a while and hold it. He goes, "You have no idea how much great music passed through that knob."
That type of reverence people still have for the technology that made the preservation of the music possible is really stunning. AAJ:
I think if that studio had been in Europe it would still be there. AK:
Oh yeah. AAJ:
I don't think the economic forces would have made it go away. But they'll tear down Yankee Stadium someday, so nothing's sacred in America's commercial individualistic rugged world, but there's still thankfully people such as yourself who can document it, get it down, and talk to the surviving cats and let people know on a more general level what it really meant.
I really appreciated your research. I loved the denouement of the book, putting Kind of Blue
in historical perspective, the interview with Ray Manzarek and the whole thing about James Brown's tune "Cold Sweat" and its relationship to "So What," that was just great, and then all of the people who have gone on to record the music from Kind of Blue.
I really appreciated all of that. AK:
Its one thing just to say this album was influential and it sells a lot. You can talk about sales figures. I thought, you know, I want to give it a different type of scorecard. I want to show people how many different types of musicians and how many great musicians have come to embrace this album and make it part of their own repertoire, from Jerry Garcia to Ray Manzarek to The Police, back to the jazz world with people such as Wes Montgomery
, Grant Green
and Joe Henderson
, etc. AAJ:
One of the people influenced by this, too, who doesn't get discussed often for his work in that period immediately following Kind of Blue
is Jackie McLean's records like Omega
and things that really went modal, he went off into the modal thing and right up to the brink of freedom, yet he seems to be overlooked a little bit in that discussion. But he seemed to be one of the cats that really understood where Miles was going with this. AK:
I tried to mention this at the opening is that I was limited by the musicians and people who were willing to be interviewed and discuss this.
There are many musicians out there who are just burnt out on interviews. Granted. There are also a lot of musicians who were burnt by Miles. Because of the way they may have been portrayed, say, in the autobiography they don't even want to discuss the subject.
I won't say that's my excuse, but I will say do you think I did not pursue Sonny Rollins
, Jackie McLean
, etc? Of course I wanted them in the book and would have loved to have them open doors for me and see how I could have maneuvered their stories in there, too. Sometimes you have to go with what you can find. AAJ:
Absolutely, and thank you for telling me that because people on the back end are armchair quarterbacks and there's a reality out there that anyone faces when they try to make anything happen. AK:
I tip my hat to you for knowing that and adding that to one more unwritten chapter to the book, and to the study for your listeners, because they should be aware of stuff like that. AAJ:
I enjoyed the way you used Lewis Porter
to describe John Coltrane, which really nailed it; the historical perspective on page 183 that relates Miles music back to the blues was very good. I really didn't think the Miles Davis Quintet with the Gil Evans
Orchestra at Carnegie Hall worked very well. The quintet sounds like it comes in early, but I may be wrong. AK:
I also don't think it was recorded that well, but then the technological aspect of what it was like, I remember reading in the files, because I was able to find Teo Macero's files at the Public Library here in New York. He talks about the problems he was having one, getting permission to record the Carnegie Hall concert and other concerts, the 1964 concert, and two, the problems he was having with union rules. Because of the set up he was in some small little lighting room that was four floors up. So the sound that you're getting at the very top level of Carnegie Hall, and you're adjusting the knobs for the mix, is definitely not what you're going to be hearing, say, in the third row where the acoustics are best. That's why in any concert nowadays if you're having a problem hearing or you think the mix is bad, the advice is always go to the mixing board, stand right next to the sound man because he's mixing for himself. Well, Teo had problems.
I think the Carnegie Hall thing was a symbolic bookend. I could not have continued my story, the Miles Davis bio time-line beyond a certain point, otherwise I'm talking about the second great quintet. That's not my purview anymore. AAJ:
I thought the way you handled it going into Miles early history, then slowing it down the once you get into the Kind of Blue
sessions, and then having a denouement with the effect of the music on the world was a beautiful shape to the book. I think my favorite part of the story is right after the album was recorded in that time they were together and touring. That is so exciting to know that band was out on the road and people could hear it. And describing the people that did hear it in various venues, with Warren Bernhardt, especially, painting a picture of The Sutherland in Chicago. AK:
I've got to tell you, I had chills when I would be doing these interviews and Warren would remember Chicago, and Gary Burton
would remember French Lick, Indiana. Ron Carter
would remember the Toronto Jazz Festival.
He was living in Detroit
at the time and drove up into Canada. Shirley Horn
remembering Birdland and running into Stan Getz
and them hearing modal jazz for the first time and saying, "Where's he going with the chords, how come he's still on that d-minor?" I'm thinking about "So What." Without even requesting it or trying to find it, all these stories of summer 1959 were coming to me, and it was just, for a researcher and a writer like myself, I could not have planned it better.
Let me say one other comment. My hope with this book is that, you know there's an old Zen saying that when I point at the moon look at the moon, not my finger. Which means let the book be the entrance to the album. And if you already know the album, let the book add to your enjoyment and appreciation. And if you don't know the album yet, let the book be your pathway to the album directly. AAJ:
Is this just coming out right now? AK:
Yes, it's about two weeks old. It's a baby. AAJ:
Well good luck with it. AK:
Thank you. Thank you for your enthusiasm and understanding. I have to
say that this is one of the most knowledgeable interviews I've had. AAJ:
Oh man. AK:
I probably won't call Chuck Nessa just yet, but I am starting to work on a project where an incredible photo of 30th Street Studio might be of interest to the people I'm working with. You can imagine I really did dive into the photo archives over at Sony and they do have a whole loose leaf binder of slides, contact sheets, etc of 30th Street because it was one of their assets and they had to have a photographic record of it. But I think it was done at the end of the seventies so you see mixing boards with the slide faders, etc. I'm like, wrong era. But I did find some photographs, which are in the book, of course, of the studio circa 1960 with the round pots. AAJ:
Small boards. AK:
Six channels. Three track tape with six channels. AAJ:
Your whole layout of how Kind of Blue
was recorded, the channel assignments, the multi-tracking, were fascinating. I was really perplexed by all of that. But to see how the instruments were divided up within the six tracks is hip. AK:
Well, you know they weren't so multi-tracking. By multi-tracking I mean sound on sound. They weren't doing that yet. They were doing stereo, but it was totally live to tape. It just happened that they had an extra track. And all they were doing with that extra-track was using it for isolation purposes, and the advantage of being able to throw on a little bit of sweetening through the echo room down in the basement. AAJ:
I think the best example of their using the echo room was on the recording they did with Duke Ellington
, on "Ellington Uptown," of "The Mooche." Jimmy Hamilton and Russell Procope play a clarinet duet, and Russell plays in that reedy New Orleans style. The response from their call and response comes out of the echo room. It's just the most brilliant use of that: it's so effective. AK:
It's interesting you mention that because it's the same producer, Irving Townsend. Well, I've learned a lot in this (interview), too: I've got to tell ya. (Laughing). AAJ:
Well good. Kind of Blue
is a key. I think the once John Coltrane was introduced to modes from Miles Davis, because he was such a tenacious musical intellect, that he ran them to their utmost conclusion and that is any note is possible. AK:
You combine that with the influence of Albert Ayler
who insists on opening up the realm of sound in music and you end up in 1965. Many people don't understand how 'Trane got to that, but I think it's very clear if you know Kind of Blue
then you can get to A Love Supreme.
And if you know Albert Ayler and what modality meant to George Russell, then you can get to 1965 and out. AK:
It's a tough step to take, though, for many listeners. Because many listeners don't hear that. AAJ:
Well they don't view jazz as an art form. It's more like an entertainment. And 'Trane viewed it as an art form because he's a musician, he's like Stravinsky or Webern. AK:
The one part of the book I really wanted to expand upon and there just wasn't enough room was jazz in the fifties. Because that whole elevation not just from a few but from a real school, a real center of the jazz world that wanted to elevate this form to an artistic level and demand that type of respect. There are very few critics writing about it: Nat Hentoff and Martin Williams. That's about it, you know... AAJ:
Leonard Feather. AK:
that were noticing this change that jazz musicians, just one wave, a particular school that really were demanding the same type of attention, respect and reverence as classical music got. AAJ:
A. B. Spellman and Amiri Baraka, too. AK: