BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

Forty years ago one of the most memorable jazz albums of all time, Kind of Blue, was recorded by Miles Davis and his band. In KIND OF BLUE--THE MAKING OF THE MILES DAVIS MASTERPIECE, Ashley Kahn calls the record "the premiere album of its era, jazz or otherwise. Its vapory piano-and-bass introduction is universally recognized. Classical buffs and rage rockers alike praise its subtlety, simplicity and emotional depth...The album has sold millions of copies around the world, making it the best-selling recording in Miles Davis' catalog and the best-selling classic jazz album ever...Kind of Blue is self-perpetuating, continuing to cast its spell on a younger audience more accustomed to the loud-and-fast aesthetic of rock and rap."

Kahn's research details all the creative thinking and playing that went into the session, giving a note-by-note account that makes for surpisingly compulsive reading. The book's 200-plus pages also paint indelible portraits of the musicians on the date: Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans, Wyton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb. Alas, all those greats are dead, except Cobb, who contributes a touching foreword that pays tribute to his fallen colleagues.

(Da Capo Press, $23)