This is a review of a book that was published in the Age a long while ago....
Miles Davis. He was bad. He was terrible. People want to be down with him even now. Even though he ain't here anymore. People just want to be near him, for him to maybe notice them. His recorded output is so vast you could spend the rest of your life just digging into the surface of it. They call him "Miles' like they know him and his work intimately .Just saying that makes them feel cool.
This is the story behind and around a recording made by Miles Davis' sextet in 1959. It is billed as the best selling album in Miles' catalogue and the best selling classic jazz album ever. The story of the group itself is enough for a book. Each member was well on the on the road to becoming a superstar and Miles was only able to hold them together for a few months. Bill Evans (and Wynton Kelly) on piano, John Coltrane tenor sax, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Paul Chambers on bass.Miles himself had already been on the scene since playing with Charlie Parker in the mid 40's bebop scene and releasing "the birth of the cool" in 1950. He was 32 when "Kind of blue" was recorded and was already making what some people saw as a "comeback". His image was , and still is, diamond hard and brilliant black.
The book is also a glimpse into a lost world. The American recording business of the last half of the 20th century. The recording itself took two sessions , each lasting three and a half hours. The studio was owned by Columbia records and was situated in an abandoned Greek orthodox church that measured 100 feet by 100 feet. The ceilings were extremely high and the control room was set up in the church's balcony. Seven microphones were suspended high in the room (two being close to the drums) , the object being to record the sound in the room and the musicians being expected to regulate the volume of their own playing. The president of Columbia could read a musical score, was a composer himself , frequently worked in the control booth and had a policy of only hiring people for top positions who were musicians or had been musically trained. Artists were expected to release three albums every year. There was also no distinction made between jazz records and pop records and all releases were given the same promotional treatment! What sort of insanity was at work here?
"Kind of Blue" was an immediate best seller and Miles went on to turn the musical world on its head a couple more times. Coltrane recorded "Giant Steps" months after this session and Bill Evans also released his second album , "everybody digs Bill Evans" in the same year. The book is full of brilliant detail and fills in the background and foreground of the music scene at the time so the event of the albums release in 1959 is not seen in isolation . ( The soundtrack to "My Fair Lady" sold 5,000,000 copies for Columbia in 1957 and Ornette Coleman was just stirring the pot with the beginnings of "free jazz" as the album was coming out.) "Kind of Blue" has never been out of print and an employee at Tower Records flagship store in Manhattan (which probably doesn't exist in 2010) is quoted as saying the it is their "best selling catalogue album period. Better than any record by the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, anybody".By 1984 it had sold 500,000 copies in the US. After that, with the advent of the cd and the relentless record company repackaging of their back catalogues, it really took off, selling 5,000,000 by the end of 2000 (when this book was written) .
In a way, it is strange to read a story of those far off days when music was modern. "Kind of Blue" went into record stores where there was no "retro" section and to radio stations that eagerly awaited new releases. There were few "classics" and the live audience was sophisticated and hip to the idea of hearing something totally unexpected. ( Modern hip hop is the only comparable scene) . You feel you are being suckered into another reissued cul de sac. Then you play the album again and wonder at the convergence of ambition and energy that led all those great players together on those two sessions. Thats the beauty of recorded music. It really is a glimpse into a simultaneous dimension.
- dave graney
- WORKSHY - 2017 memoir out on Affirm Press. Let's get Tight - 2017 CD with Clare Moore. Moodists - Coral Snakes - mistLY. I don’t know what I am and don’t want to know any more than I already know. I aspire, in my music , to 40s B Movie (voice and presence) and wish I could play guitar like Charlie Christian or Grant Green -but not in this lifetime, I know.
2014 solo album from Dave Graney. *****"If I've learnt anything in my years of writing about music it's that if you are going to do anything of worth in this tough game, you better have your own thing. Today's generic is easily replaced by tomorrow's. And yet you need to be flexible, to follow wherever the songs demand. In the case of this, only the second credited as a solo album among 30 or so Graney releases, it's a curious yet welcoming lane he walks you down, with acoustic guitars, not much percussion, vibes, smooth sounds. At the end of it you feel like you've awoken from a strange yet pleasant summer's dream. As shot by Luis Bunuel. It ranges from off-kilter reveries (A Woman Skinnies Up a Man, The Old Docklands Wheel) through to the softly seductive (How Can You Get Out of London) and the downright arch (Look Into My Shades, Everything Is Great In The Beginning.) This is music that is neither folk, nor blues, nor country, but it's all Graney, somewhere out to the left field beyond Lee Hazlewood's raised eyebrow. It's astringent on the tongue but sweetens in the telling." Noel Mengel Brisbane Courier Mail
you've been in my mind
June 2012 super high energy pop rock album - blazing electric 12 strings - total 70s rock drive. Greatest yet! available via paypal - $20 pp
SUPERMODIFIED - August 2010 remixed/re-sung/re-strung//remastered/replayed comp via PAYPAL
also available as a digital album
Knock yourself (2009)-first ever dg solo set-filthy electro r&b-available via Paypal- $20
available as a digital album too
We Wuz Curious (2008)-blazing R&B jazz pop album available via paypal-$20
UNAVAILABLE-COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!!!
AVAILABLE AS A DIGITAL album
Hashish and Liquor (2005 double disc by Dave Graney and Clare Moore) available via Paypal $25
UNAVAILABLE-COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!!!
Single album HASHISH available as a digital release