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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 20 August 2017
Another great string to Mr Carr,s bow.
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2003
One could criticise aspects of this book (Ian Carr writes less about some recordings than one might like, and there is perhaps more emphasis on the later part of Miles' work than some might like) but ... hey ... this is a great book.
Yes, read the autobiography as well, yes of course listen to the music as well. But for anyone wanting to read about perhaps the most unusual and influential musician across half the twentieth century, this is essential stuff. Carr brings a lot of understanding and research to his work (he writes very well for a trumpet player !!) and he also brings real love and emotion.
I found the book informative and moving ... and it sent me back to the Miles records I have while inspiring me to get even more!
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on 2 November 2010
Sadly Ian Carr is no longer with us but this book is and it is the best biography of Miles out there. Although I can take with a pinch of salt Carr's forays into musical theory, his was a trumpet player - and a damn fine one - and so approaches the Masters work with a clarify and inner knowledge that is hard to beat. I had the originla paperback of this and read it so much that it fell apart. This is a brilliant book about one of the most brilliant jazz musicians of al time.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2016
well researched/written. Miles was unique, as was his tone and technique. This bio. endorses everything and is a must for anyone who, like me, is old in appreciation of jazz/blues of all types.
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on 24 March 2017
The definitive biography this isn't.It may be the definitive hagiography.The writers sychophancy is challenged only by his pretentiousness in his explictions of Davis' art.There is no light and shade, only blinding light.Non of Davis' own prejudices and nastiness, well documented elsewhere, is mentioned.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 September 2013
Nearly 15 years on from when I first read it, a sudden impulse drove me to once again pick up and read this, Ian Carr's biography of one of the 20th Century's musical giants, an artistic and stylistic innovator of such fecundity that what in other circumstances would sound like hyperbole in Davis's case often seems understated.

Carr is clearly in almost complete thrall to Davis's music, although not so much that he doesn't notice weaknesses in some of the recordings. And music is mostly what the book is about - its making, who made it, and how they came to be in the band - to the extent that biographical detail generally forms a temporal framework on which the story of the music can be hung. Hence Davis's various domestic arrangements - the women in his life, the homes, the cars - receive a mention as they are necessary but some of the more sordid detail is either skated over or omitted. Carr does, however, inject a speculation that Miles was bisexual.

Unfortunately for Carr, and possibly for his readers, some of the "complete" box sets, such as those for Bitches Brew and Cellar Doors, were not available to him. It would be interesting to see his verdict of such releases. He also ignores the many bootlegs made of Davis's live shows, some of which have been scrubbed up and released by mainstream music companies.

In terms of balance, the book seems overly top heavy when dealing with Miles's final decade, with extensive detail given regarding the making of the likes of You're Under Arrest, Tutu and Amandla. It's almost as if spending so long telling us how great the music produced during that period is will make us believe it. I'm personally not a big fan, but only from a musical perspective. I don't subscribe to the "sell-out" school, and whatever my opinion of the music I'm glad that Miles was finally, during that period, on a secure financial footing, as he always deserved to be.

Carr does, however, provide a useful riposte to critics of Aura, the only music from that period that I personally play with any regularity, that composer Palle Mikkelborg may as well have played horn on it himself, by detailing how much the shape and content of the version released (eventually) was influenced by Miles. For example, in its original form Miles only played on one movement. It was only subsequently that Miles got back to Mikkelborg and input the ideas that would eventually lead to the album, where he plays on eight out of ten movements.

Though generally not putting a foot wrong, Carr does at one point interestingly place Minneapolis in Wisconsin. Otherwise the book continues to stand as a suitable monument to one of the most accomplished musicians of the 20th Century, whose legacy continues to resound.
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on 17 March 2002
Mile Davis bestrides 20th century music in the same way that Stravinsky or Debussy does. A book about a musician of such colossal weight must fall short because it deals with sublime talent, unquestionable genius. Naturally, the music speaks for itself and perhaps no more need be said.

However, if the life of an artist is to be described to us who revere the work, let it be done by such as Ian Carr: clearly as besotted as any of us. Being a respected player of the same instrument in the same genre naturally lends authenticity.

I found Carr's analysis of the recordings made me want to rush to my CD's and listen again: there is genuine insight and erudition here. The passion and love for the music described by Ian Carr almost - but not quite - excuses his unalloyed enthusiasm for the entre Davis recorded oeuvre. It wasn't all sublime: there were low points. However, all is forgiven for what is [and has been previously described as] a genuine labour of love, superbly carried off.
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on 28 June 2001
carr's book covers Miles's life and music comprehensible. While it doesn't have the first-hand feel of the autobiography it is a balanced and concise over-view of one of the greatest musicians of any genre. an ideal start, but read Miles's book as well, just watch out for the language.
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on 9 August 2016
A very interesting and informative account of the legend, Miles Davies.
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on 18 April 2016
It is indeed pretty definitive and certainly a damn good read.
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