intraspace: the review lounge

Saturday, December 03, 2005

miles: the autobiography

miles: the autobiography, by miles davis and quincy troupe

this is a classic of jazz writing. and while i'm reaching for superlatives, can i also say that it is pretty much an essential read for anyone interested in jazz?

miles davis was apparently quite well-known for getting details wrong, but even if every detail in this book isn't entirely accurate, it still gives great insight into the jazz world he inhabited.

nearly every famous name in jazz was associated with davis at some point in their career, and his life spanned pretty-much every jazz movement from big band to acid jazz, although this account ends before the last couple of albums he did.

now, as for the writing itself, the text sounds like miles sitting down and rabbiting off his recollections (although i'm sure putting the book together was actually a bit of a nightmare for quincy troupe) and that works well. the book is somewhat famous for the way it liberated the word motherf****r - miles found ways to use it in every conceivable way. so if your ears burn, then this might be a struggle. not only that but miles comes across as a tiny bit racist and sexist - i'll leave it up to you to decide how much irony i'm using in the words 'tiny bit'.

gladometer ('how glad am i that i read it?') rating: pretty glad.

on the headphones: 'into the ocean' by evermore, from the album 'dreams' (not jazz by the way).

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