'It is the most singular of sounds, yet among the most ubiquitous. It is the sound of isolation that has sold itself to millions.'
Miles Davis's Kind of Blue is the best selling piece of music in the history of jazz, and for many listeners among the most haunting in all of twentieth-century music. It is also, notoriously, the only jazz album many people own. Recorded in 1959 (in nine miraculous hours), there has been nothing like it since. Its atmosphere - slow, dark, meditative, luminous - became all-pervasive for a generation, and has remained the epitome of melancholy coolness ever since.
Richard Williams has written a history of the album which for once does not rip it out of its wider cultural context. He evokes the essence of the music - identifying the qualities that make it so uniquely appealing - while making effortless connections to painting, literature, philosophy and poetry. This makes for an elegant, graceful and beautifully-written narrative.
Richard Williams is the Guardian's chief sports writer. His previous jobs include chief sports writer of the Independent, assistant editor of the Times, editor of Time Out and Melody Maker and head of artists and repertoire at Island Records.