Larry Kart

New light on Miles Davis autobiography

87 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, romualdo said:

went to Amazon site via link but getting "This title is not currently available for purchase" - maybe it has something to do with an out of US customer (I'm in Australia). Anyone from the states having the same issue??

I can't even get into the "sample' info

Yes, I had the same issue (from London) and had to use my vpn before I could see the price ($29.99). It doesn’t seem to be available on amazon.co.uk

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1 hour ago, romualdo said:

went to Amazon site via link but getting "This title is not currently available for purchase" - maybe it has something to do with an out of US customer (I'm in Australia). Anyone from the states having the same issue??

I can't even get into the "sample' info

You mean the Yamaguchi book, yes? I'm in the US and have no problem.

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1 hour ago, romualdo said:

went to Amazon site via link but getting "This title is not currently available for purchase" - maybe it has something to do with an out of US customer (I'm in Australia). Anyone from the states having the same issue??

I can't even get into the "sample' info

Same problem here (from Germany), though I opened the page on the (US) amazon.com site. Of course when I open the page on amazon.com the site recognizes I am not in the US (I have bought through amazon.com before) but I find this odd. Is it a kindle issue? 

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25 minutes ago, Captain Howdy said:

You mean the Yamaguchi book, yes? I'm in the US and have no problem.

Yep, that's what I meant & thanks

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4 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

John Szwed's "So What: The Life of MIles Davis" (2002) is my go-to Miles biography. It might not be the only Miles book you'll ever need, but it's the best written one I've yet found.

Szwed is perhaps better known for his definitive biography of Sun Ra, from a few years earlier (late 90's).

The Szwed is excellent. Ian Carr's is also very good--he was also a professional trumpet player, and he gives more pages than perhaps expected to the electric Miles.

F

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Swed & Carr are good for data. Chambers writes a good "fan book", the only problem being is that the music loses him around 1968 or so, and the writing follows suit. In it's time it was indispensable (at least Vol 1 ws), but today....eh....

Whatever your poison, supplement it with these two:

516YKP4VTEL.jpg kirchner1031.jpg

 

But hell, ead the autobiography anyway. It gets the desired results: https://www.thedailybeast.com/miles-davis-penned-popular-musics-best-autobiography

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7 hours ago, medjuck said:

I think so, though anything after 1980 is only covered in the introduction and he's very negative about it. 

I am too, relatively speaking, so good fit for me.

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The real WOW factor for the Chambers books the first time around was that it listed all the bootlegs. That was a bigger deal then than it is now.

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I've just ordered used copies of the Chambers and the Szwed books (cost me $4 each, so not a big indulgence), look forward to seeing them.   Thanks to all for the suggestions.

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My take is that any fan of Davis would enjoy the books by Szwed, Chambers AND Troupe.  (If you haven't read any of them, I'd recommend reading them in that order.)

Plus the books Jim lists above. 

Another one to consider: 

514KPYW0T-L._SX358_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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Some interesting suggestions (I guess I'll keep an eye on the Szwed, then ...)

And how about THIS (below) to complement all of the above for the "early" years? ;)

https://www.amazon.com/Miles-Diary-Life-Davis-1947-61/dp/1860741592/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&keywords=Miles%27+Diary+Ken+Vail&qid=1561477075&s=gateway&sr=8-1

 

 

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I bought the Ken Vail Bird's Diary, and...it's more fun to think about reading than it was actually reading it.

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1 hour ago, HutchFan said:

My take is that any fan of Davis would enjoy the books by Szwed, Chambers AND Troupe.  (If you haven't read any of them, I'd recommend reading them in that order.)

Plus the books Jim lists above. 

Another one to consider: 

514KPYW0T-L._SX358_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I was underwhelmed by Cook's Blue Note book when I read it several years ago.  Is this better?

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Posted (edited)

8 minutes ago, felser said:

I was underwhelmed by Cook's Blue Note book when I read it several years ago.  Is this better?

I liked Cook's Miles book better than the Blue Note book.  I'd say that the Miles book is more comparable to Cook's contributions to the Penguin Guide to Jazz.  Naturally, I don't always agree with Cook's assessments -- and I often strongly disagree with them.  But it's still worth a read, if only to stir the pot, bring another perspective to the table.

 

Edited by HutchFan

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Just ordered the reader and companion books recommended by Jim.  $17 shipped for 4 books now (those two, the Chambers and the Szwed).  Gotta love the internet!

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17 minutes ago, felser said:

Just ordered the reader and companion books recommended by Jim.  $17 shipped for 4 books now (those two, the Chambers and the Szwed).  Gotta love the internet!

I think you'll enjoy them! :tup 

 

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On 24/06/2019 at 6:45 PM, Rooster_Ties said:

I've only read Miles' Autobiography twice, iirc -- back around 1992, and again sometime between 2000-2005 (no idea when).

Same here: I first read it around 92 and reread it a short while (some years) ago.

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I tried reading Troupe's book when it came out and gave up before long. His writing style and playing loose with the facts has no appeal to me.

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Don't think anyone's mentioned Paul Tingen's 2001 book "Miles Beyond: Electric Exporations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991", which I seem to recall also has some on-line updates via his website (been a while since I've last looked), or many some unpublished interviews, and such.

Can't vouch for the veracity of all of it, but I seem to recall Tingen's book being BY FAR the best coverage of Miles post-'67 output -- light years deeper than anyone else dared venture into his electric output.

Probably if push came to shove, I'd nominate the Szwed and Tingen books as my top-2 Miles books -- though the latter one clearly because of its specialized focus.

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I did enjoy the Tingen book for dealing with that music as music, for looking at what WAS going on instead of what WASN'T. He wasn't the first to deal with it from a reality-based perspective, but he certainly wrote a good book about it. The only groan I had was that he also included some Sri Chowhoundy type of MacroCosmicUnity about the philosophy of it all, and a little bit went a long way, especially since I do not share the same concept of how much is a little bit. But thankfully, that stuff was segregated away from the musical part.

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Ordered the Tingen book.  Another $9.50 shipped.  This is getting to be an expensive thread for me!

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Posted (edited)

Talking of the Troupe book (‘Miles and Me’, not the autobio) at the time it came out I remember attending a book launch/concert at a very nice auditorium in the LA area with Mr Troupe doing the intros with a stellar Miles tribute band including Bennie Maupin, Adam Holzman and Patrice Rushen. They played some of the Bitches Brew era stuff and it was great to hear Maupin in that context.

10 minutes ago, felser said:

Ordered the Tingen book.  Another $9.50 shipped.  This is getting to be an expensive thread for me!

The Paul Tingen book is an excellent read ! Particularly good for the period up to ‘Agharta’. For the later period, I like George Cole’s ‘The Last Miles’.

Edited by sidewinder

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Patrice Rushen is quite a talented and interesting musician, from those teenage albums on Prestige up to the present.  Very convincing for both jazz and R&B.

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Posted (edited)

Just for fun :

Someone who remembers this one ?

I want to say this was the only Miles Davis book around, when others didn´t exist. Actually it was also one of my first "jazz books". The author also had difficulties with Miles 70´s music but actually it was written when the latest Miles album was "On the Corner", so it must have been from 1972 and I think in 1977 I purchased it.

The strange thing is, Mr. Cole says about "On the Corner" that "it´s an insult on the intelect of people"..... can you imagine that.

So even when this book was brandnew, I had albums that even didn´t exist when the book was written: Aghartha, let´s say "Agharta" was the latest record that existed when we were teenies, we all tried to be cool like Miles Davis, to wear sunglasses and all that things, you could say we was "Children of Agharta". Nobody knew really much about it, there was no liner notes, and from the cover art some even thought that it was "recorded under water" since you see the NY skyline and some water plants and fishes and stuff.....

Anyway, I was the biggest Miles fan around even if I didn´t know more than two of his albums "Steamin´" from 1956 and "Agharta" from 1975 because that´s what was in the record store :D

imagesWIA60Q5C.jpg

Edited by Gheorghe

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

The strange thing is, Mr. Cole says about "On the Corner" that "it´s an insult on the intelect of people"..... can you imagine that.

 

imagesWIA60Q5C.jpg

I don't know that book at all (but my Miles Davis record collection ends with Sketches of Spain and Seven Steps to Heaven anyway .. excepting an early pressing of Bitches Brew bought very cheaply at a fleamarket a couple of years ago but reserved for "later" more intense listening because the spins I have given it since buying it have not at all found me "in the mood" for that ... ;))

Anyway ... I can very well imagine books as the one above with such judgments (that may read odd to us later-borns) do exist (and I do have a few such jazz books too) but I'd very much advise against dismissing them outright just because we may consider us blessed with oh so much "hindsight knowledge". Despite their flaws, such "contemporary" books often do serve a purpose to some extent IMO even today in that they show first-hand how events in history were perceived at the time. This does help in understanding history too. If you rely only on latter-day re-writings of history you are beginning to see things through an increasing amount of glasses tinted by other peoples' perceptions that may never have been yours. So do take those earlier source materials with all the grain of salt that is called for but do not dismiss them lightly. Often what was written much later needs to be taken with a fair grain of salt too IMHO because over time certain historical facts tend to be assessed there by criteria of what is considered "commonly acquired wisdom" and/or by people who do have an "agenda" of their own that does not aid in presenting an even-handed picture of that history either.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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