News for James Kaplan

“3 Shades of Blue” in Brazil and South Korea

The rights to 3 Shades of Blue have now been sold around the world in Brazil and South Korea. Check back soon for the cover art from these different countries!

3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool – Available for Pre-Order

From James Kaplan, the author of the definitive biography of Frank Sinatra, comes the story of how jazz arrived at the pinnacle of American culture in 1959, told through the journey of three towering artists--Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans--who came together to create the most iconic jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue. 3 Shades of Blue is available now for pre-order from and Kaplan's publisher Penguin.

Canongate acquires Kaplan’s group biography of jazz icons Davis, Coltrane and Evans: 3 Shades of Blue


Canongate has acquired a group biography of jazz icons Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bill Evans by author James Kaplan: Three Shades of Blue

Canongate c.e.o. Jamie Byng acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans & the Empire of Cool, a blended biography detailing the lives of three jazz pioneers including their seminal "Kind of Blue" album. Byng bought rights from Hal Fessenden at Penguin Random House US.

Scott Moyers is the primary editor, and Canongate and Penguin Press will publish simultaneously in March 2024.


A selection of the large historic photographic images have been posted on the 3 Shades of Blue photo gallery section. They include rarely seen images of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans. It is a glimpse into the depth of research that has gone into Jame's Kaplans new book. Thank you to James for securing the use of these remarkable images on the website. This is just a small taste of what you will find in 3 Shades of Blue.

Please note that these are rights-managed images from various personal, prestigious or museum collections, so cannot be reproduced without permission. For more information on their use please use the contact section of the website.

Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew

You can read about Miles Davis and his work in James Kaplan's new stunning work from the pinnacle of jazz in the late 1950's - 3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool.

Bitches Brew was released on March 30th, 1970 by Columbia Records. It is now widely regarded as of one greatest jazz albums of all time, as well as being a huge influence on other genres such as rock and various cross-over styles. It has been described as the beginning of Miles Davis' “electric” style.

The artists working on the recording included Wayne Shorter on soprano saxophone, Dave Holland on bass, Chick Corea on electric piano, and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

Track listing

Disk 1

  • "Pharaoh's Dance" - written by Joe Zawinul
  • “Bitches Bew” - written by Miles Davis

Disk 2

  • “Spanish Key” - written by Miles Davis
  • “John McLaughlin” - written by Miles Davis
  • “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” - written by Miles Davis
  • "Sanctuary" - written by Wayne Shorter
  • “Feio”

Find out more about Miles Davis and his during the high point of jazz and beyond in 3 Shades of Blue.

Reviews & Press for Irving Berlin: New York Genius

"Genius is the operative word. The latest entry in the “Jewish Lives” series tackles perhaps the most prolific and important composer and lyricist in U.S. history…Kaplan, no stranger to daunting subjects…has written an extensively researched, entertaining, and nuanced account that contextualizes Berlin’s story and achievements within the scope of Jewish immigrant New York and modern American popular culture." – Library Journal.

"Short but robust and richly rewarding…Kaplan vivifies Berlin and…brings his deep knowledge and wise insight to Berlin’s life story so that even his most classic songs like “White Christmas” feel like a new discovery." – The National Book Review.

"One senses on every page Kaplan’s enthusiasm for his subject as well as his deep knowledge." – The New York Journal of Books.

"Kaplan excavates psychological depth beneath the blithe melodies…a smart, entertaining biography of a great songwriter that will have readers humming along." – Publishers Weekly.

Read more at The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of Israel, The Arts Fuse, The Jewish Review of Books, DownBeat, Wesleyan University, America Magazine, Mosaic, Popmatters, CBS News, NBC New York, and Broadway World.

James on the B’nai B’rith International Podcast

James appeared on the B'nai B'rith International podcast on November 22nd:

In his newly published book Irving Berlin: New York Genius, distinguished biographer and journalist James Kaplan tackles the complex relationship between Irving Berlin and the city of New York. In this podcast episode, B'nai B'rith International CEO and host Daniel S. Mariaschin and Kaplan discuss Kaplan's book as well as the legacy of Irving Berlin.

James on the Jewish Lives Podcast

Yale University Press's Jewish Lives Podcast dedicated its November 18th episode to Irving Berlin: New York Genius:

Irving Berlin has been called—by George Gershwin, among others—the greatest songwriter of the golden age of American popular song.

James Kaplan, author of the Jewish Lives biography Irving Berlin: New York Genius, underscores Berlin’s unique brilliance as a composer, his witty, wily, and tough Jewish immigrant experience, and his continued relevance in American popular culture today.