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Milestones: The Music And Times Of Miles Davis Paperback – August 22, 1998
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a fantastic bio. Like many other critics and older fans who were raised on jazz, Chambers can't really relate to Miles' work from the late 1960's onwards, but he does give it comprehensive coverage, rather than pretend that it all ended with "The Quintet". I'm not sure that criticisms about his quoting reviews are justified. I saw it as just being thorough - giving details of the critics' reactions to recordings rather than just his own. I learned much from his chronicling of events, right through to the seventies, that I did not know.
If you are a fan of Miles' final period (1981 comeback to his death in 1991), then you're probably the only one who will feel short-changed. As this was not a period that interested me greatly, I was not particularly bothered (probably exhausted by then!).
A really professional effort.
Miles Davis was the premiere jazz musician of his time along with John Coltrane, Charlie "Bird" Parker, Herbie Hancock, etc, yet while you can love Davis's music, to know the man was very hard to do, since Miles Davis was a standoffish and sullen individual. Chambers describes Davis's behavior as being sullen and hard to know because Davis's was a very shy man. I am sure that Davis lived a tough life because of injustice, yet it is sad that he didn't trust his fans and those who cared for him. Davis certainly lived the life of a "star", he over-indulged in sex, was an abuser of drugs, and had split personalities later on in life, yet his musical vision was almost always focused and clear, whether it be in the pinnacle of his talent (1950-1962), or his creating fusion (1967-1973), or the later part of his life.
Chambers does an excellent job of detailing the relationship Miles had with his fellow musicians such as the love-hate relationship with Theolonius Monk, the admiration and jealousy between Coltrane and Miles, as well as Miles being a mentor to such jazz greats as Herbie Hancock, John McGlaughlin, Chick Corea, etc.
I am a tremendous fan of Miles Davis jazz visions, I love his music and his musical style, yet after reading this book I feel sadness because I don't know if I pity Davis or just not liking him altogether, or admiring him no matter what, his final years were spent in paranoia, suspicion and feeding his ego, that is sad because if he would of just relaxed and enjoy his fans admiration I believe he might have lived longer. Anyways, this is an outstanding book and is highly recommended to all jazz lovers and fans of the immortal Miles Davis.
Many of Chambers' details surrounding his life would be plagarized by Miles' himself in his own wild autobiography. This is a must-read for fans who wish to know the man inside the maniac.
"Comprehensive" is probably this book's biggest asset - it tries to cover every item that Davis recorded (and released) before the mid-1980s. Written by a non-musician, it is accessible to laymen.
Unfortunately, there are significant shortcomings. Probably foremost is the author's bias against Davis's music from 1965 onward. Reading his commentary on the 2nd quintet and electric eras, you get the feeling that he doesn't "get" the music and is incapable of discussing it in an insightful manner. This is not the place to go for a substantive discussion of Sorcerer, B's Brew or Agharta. These shortcomings also come through in his commentary of the cultural context for post-1965 recordings.
There are also numerous errors in the discographical sections. Some of this couldn't have been avoided (when Chambers wrote the book, he didn't have the extensive online sessionographies we have today). Other mistakes are fairly obvious to serious listeners, and make me wonder whether Chambers actually listened to the recordings he reviews. Either way, for this information you're better off using another source.
Finally, Chambers uses no primary sources. This is a real shame as he wrote the book when Miles and a larger number of his sidemen were alive. His secondary sources are fairly wide-ranging, but surely we could have gotten more insight from the musicians themselves.
One aspect that was not a shortcoming to me, but may be more problematic to others, is the relatively cursory discussion of Davis's personal life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
what a great book! More insights than all the other things on Miles I've ever read. the book was in great shape, got to me quickly.Published 5 months ago by Mark Montesano
Detailed history of Miles Davis's development as a jazz pioneer. Not an easy read... but definitely informative and full of historical gems. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sam Gaddie
This book was a tough read for me (and apparantly for most of the reviewers before me), as I had read excerpts from it years ago and it infuriated me and interested me... Read morePublished on February 17, 2011 by 4-Legged Defender
Everything you need to know about the man who did everything. If you exclude dixiland and swing, Miles was there for the whole evolution of jazz, and pushed that evolution in some... Read morePublished on January 26, 2010 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
Re-read Review: I still consider this a great source of information but the writing style is horrible. Chambers uses $5. Read morePublished on March 11, 2007 by Mark
The best book on Miles Davis and one of the best jazz books ever written. Originally published in two volumes, the first half covers Miles from his birth up to 1960, the second... Read morePublished on December 25, 2005 by Bomojaz
A fine book.
But Chambers is also slightly upset, I think, that Quincy Troupe got to work with Miles on his autobiography and not he -- and what Chambers' book is missing is... Read more
This is probably the best book about the life of Miles Davis I have found. I have read his autobiography, the biography by Carr, and So What along with a couple of other Miles... Read morePublished on February 3, 2003 by Drak