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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stellar, honest...musical
Miles Davis, with all his faults, flaws and laughable quirks, was still one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century. It takes a book like this where he leaves no stone unturned to make clear the debt we all owe him and his contemporaries, as well as the restless spirit that lead him beyond what he helped to establish as modern jazz. In many ways he shows...
Published on 12 Nov 2002 by Earl Hazell

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars underneath, he was an ugly man, but his music is still great
I had listened to the wonderful music of this man for over 20 years before reading this book. He was my initiation in the endlessly engrossing world of jazz and his strikingly engineered appearence served as a way to distinguish myself from my adolescent peers who preferred rock stars. I own at least half of the albums he made and still find new things in them whenever I...
Published on 12 July 2011 by rob crawford


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stellar, honest...musical, 12 Nov 2002
Miles Davis, with all his faults, flaws and laughable quirks, was still one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century. It takes a book like this where he leaves no stone unturned to make clear the debt we all owe him and his contemporaries, as well as the restless spirit that lead him beyond what he helped to establish as modern jazz. In many ways he shows himself to be, ironically, the archetypal and sterotypical artist simultaneously. Yet his telling of the profound friendships he had with Max Roach and Coltrane, his deep awe and respect but dispassionate eye for the genius and addictions of Charlie Parker, the loves of his life- and what he put them through, and his brutal, courageous hoonesty in general, gives us a gift of his haunting humanity.
But above all, this about the music. His own telling of his style, the true creators of the form in total and the actual environment where it was produced, and how he created so many styles of his own is enough to make this book worth having.
You will never find another human being who can make curse words sound so beautiful!
If you love jazz, or are a jazz musician, this book will remind you why. And why you love Miles. Everybody does.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sizzling and engaging autobiography of Miles Davis, 3 July 1996
By A Customer
"Listen. The greatest feeling I ever had in my life - with my clothes on - was when I first hear Diz and Bird together in St. Louis, Missouri, back in 1944". And so begins Miles' account of his remarkable career. In collaboration with Quincy Troupe, Davis guides us through the events and the people in his life that shaped his music. A brilliant piece of work which is distinctly Miles - simultaneously angry and humorous, harsh and reflective. Miles speaks directly about his struggles with drugs, the women in his life, and his experience as an often misunderstood black musician in a white America. Miles also provides us with richly engaging accounts of his music and the musicians he played with over the years. This spirited story is told by Miles in caustic language and he never shies away from controversy. Miles said of his music in his later years "I like playing with young musicians. I want to keep creating, changing. Music isn't about standing still and becoming safe". This book isn't safe and will always be compelling reading. A must read for new and seasoned fans and enthusiasts.

Charlie Saxe

Chicago, Illinois
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars underneath, he was an ugly man, but his music is still great, 12 July 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Miles: The Autobiography (Picador Books) (Paperback)
I had listened to the wonderful music of this man for over 20 years before reading this book. He was my initiation in the endlessly engrossing world of jazz and his strikingly engineered appearence served as a way to distinguish myself from my adolescent peers who preferred rock stars. I own at least half of the albums he made and still find new things in them whenever I listen to them. There is genius in what he created.

Unfortunately, reading his story in his own words took more away than it gave me. Miles Davis is, in short, a horrible person: full of bitterness and hatred, despising women while exploiting them, and narcissistic to his very core. His views are primitive and bigoted, so politically incorrect that it demonstrates why PC is not all bad! He was also wantonly self-destructive and frequently drug addicted, for which he offers neither lessons nor apologies. The lack of care and humility in the way he reveals all of this is truly stunning and crude, written as it is in a ridiculously self-conscious black jive. He literally embodies the notion that there is a destructive side to all creativity.

That being said, the book also offers a fascinating history of jazz, the major movements of which he changed or affected fundamentally at least 4 or 5 times from 1940 to about 1977. It was an amazing career, and a great gift to us all. And in this book, he offers himself up naked and scarred.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Musician, 31 Mar 2007
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This review is from: Miles: The Autobiography (Picador Books) (Paperback)
I am disappointed so many reviewers seem to regard Miles as a racist. Personally it seems to me he was born into a wealthy black family, son of intelligent and cultured parents, and wasn't prepared, as he often says, to take s--- from anyone particularly if they were white and doing it because he was black. That doesn't make him a racist, it makes him brave.

And contrary to one reviewer's comments, the book is full of stuff about the music, much of which I didn't understand because it was too technical. For anyone who knows anything about music, or who has studied it I should think this book would be fascinating.

For me too it was fascinating as a fine documenting of the history of jazz, and gives good insights into the character of many musicians, especially Parker and Coltrane. It also says a lot about the nature of racism in the USA much of which no doubt still holds.

Davis was an incredibly strong character, had to be to survive so many generations of jazz when so many didn't. He had to be decisive, I don't think this makes him unpleasant in itself although to me his attitudes to women were frankly primitive.

Despite this I found this an inspiring book and probably the best book I have read about jazz.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Davis' Life History Catalogues Many Miles, 3 Nov 1997
By A Customer
For the very few that felt Miles Davis was a saintly soul, they should be required to read this venomous, but arresting, biography detailing his early history in the clubs to the years of experimentation and critical panning. Miles Davis was arrogant, egotistical, vain, abusive (to himself and others), mainly uncomplimentary of other artists' talents, and foremost, a musical genius of unparalleled comparison. To hear him play was to make one almost forget how undesirable of a personality he was. This book is a must read for lovers of autobiography, for lovers of jazz's unique history, and most importantly, for those who want to find out more about the man behind the horn, regardless of what they may discover. This is a spectacular autobiography, behind only Kinski's "All I Need is Love" for outright pulp content and total audacity.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the easiest book....not the easiest man., 19 Sep 2008
This review is from: Miles: The Autobiography (Picador Books) (Paperback)
I had a great deal of trouble starting this book, the colloquial tone didn't chime well for me (a personal thing, I know), and, as other reviewers have noted Miles Davis was not a nice chap. Despite his background - more privileged than most Black people at the time, something that he references quite a lot during the book - Miles comes across as an aggressive misogynist, who when rescued from addiction by his Father goes back to drugs pretty quickly. Is he racist? Maybe, but given the context of the time in American history that he writes about is his attitude to White people surprising? In all this, it's the misogyny I struggle with & was hoping all the way through for a bit of insight & regret in his reflection of his relationships with women. If it's there it's fleeting. The language is also a bit `choice' at times, especially his use of the MF word. I'm no prude but it takes a bit of getting used to & I'm not sure I'd lend the book to my Dad!

So why bother with this book? You don't need to be a jazz aficionado to enjoy this no-holds-barred trawl through the Birth of The Cool with legends like Coltrane, Rollins, Mingus, Monk et al. Sure, some of the lists of dates/gigs/line-ups/recordings may be for the nerds (Guilty!) but there's some great stories & anecdotes along the way and, whether you like him or not isn't really the point. He was a fascinating character, a product of his time who produced some amazing music, which becomes even more amazing when you learn how young he was & that he sometimes made five recordings a year, most of which would now be considered classics.

To paraphrase, love the music, hate the musician
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncompromisingly Brilliant, 11 Jun 2006
This review is from: Miles: The Autobiography (Picador Books) (Paperback)
Those who know of Miles will expect will probably expect his harsh and aggressive nature to come through in his autobiography, and you'd be right to assume this. Miles writes directly and honestly about his creative relationships with all of the people he worked with over an incredibly diverse musical career. For those just getting into jazz music, this book presents you with pretty much a who's who of jazz from the 40's onwards, basically because virtually anyone of any importance has played with Miles.

As a person, Miles comes across as a very unsavourary character to say the least, however by the end of the book I still found myself utterly facinated by him. His uncompromising hard work ethic towards his art is very admirable, and very inspriring to any musicians. However, his white rasism, (although intrigingly this didn't apply to white musicians who's style he liked) abuse of his various wives, various drug addictions, abuse of band mates, (although sometimes with jusifyable reasons) continuous swearing and materialism were the more unpleasant aspects of his personality.

In conclusion, if you want an honest, uncompromising, and historical account of one of the most interesting musicians to ever pick up a horn then READ THIS BOOK. However if your the sort of person who gets offended by the harsh realities of life or by the word "Moth******er" then i'd advise not bothering, cos well he'll probably describe you as the kind of person he hates, I know he did with me a few times...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure, unadulterated jazz in Miles Davis's autobiography., 7 Sep 1997
By A Customer
Haven't you ever wanted to live jazz, the way it was supposed to be lived, breathed, eaten, inhaled, and exuded? The way it was meant to, before jazz got relegated to background music for luxury car commercials and swank urban coffee shops. For those of us born in the wrong era, the closest we can get is to read _Miles: The Autobiography_. To say it's simply about sex, drugs, and jazz is like saying Miles's music merely "defined music for a new generation." After hearing Davis's refreshingly raw and acerbic, honest voice, you'll first realize why the editors had to cut out some material because it was too controversial, and then wonder manically what it could have been. It's not too late, though. If you can't pick up a trumpet and jam, the least you can do is read _Miles_ and breathe it in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, 28 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Autobiography (Audio Cassette)
This is undoubtedly the one book that every fan of Miles Davis should read. We are given a clear insite into the world of "The Picasso Of Music". Miles himself agreed to the writing of his autobiography to clear up a few issues such as who exactly wrote Blue In Green, what happened on that recording for Prestige Records between Miles and Thelonious Monk and why he walked away from music between 1975 and 1980.Few books have managed to grip me on this individual as this one and we are given a clear insite into what it took to be a musician between 1940 and 1990.It is as though we are sitting next to the great man and listening while he narrates his like story. Gripping.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb literary work., 11 April 1999
By A Customer
This is one of the finest works to date concerning the legendary musician, Miles Davis. I actually believed that I was walking through the life of this great artist as I read this work. It is definitely well written and researched. A bargain for the price. If you did not or if you do know Miles, pick this one up. PICK THIS ONE UP!!!!!!!! IT IS A WORK FOR THE AGES!!!!!!!!
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Miles: The Autobiography (Picador Books)
Miles: The Autobiography (Picador Books) by Miles Davis (Paperback - 7 Dec 1990)
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