From Library Journal
Carr has not merely updated but substantially overhauled and enhanced his earlier life story of musician Miles Davis (Miles Davis: A Biography, LJ 9/1/82), already a fine biography. This new work charts Davis's musical career up to his death in 1991 and includes new interviews with jazz greats such as Max Roach and Bill Evans. Using a mixture of lay and technical terms, this often-riveting examination provides a balanced assessment of the importance of Davis to the world of music, particularly jazz. Carr's discussion of Davis's numerous recordings inexplicably treats those of 1974-75 offhandedly, particularly in comparison to all the space devoted to Davis's final ten years of recordings; there is a shade too much praise for these later documents. Carr redeems himself by concluding the book with his thoughtful obituary, originally published at the time of Davis's passing. Recommended for public, academic, and music libraries.AWilliam Kenz, Moorhead State Univ. Lib., MN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
In the 17 years since Carr's biography of the mercurial trumpet genius was published, Miles has died and lots of new material has surfaced (including Davis's hilariously profane autobiography). So Carr has produced a new life, nearly twice the length of the original. Throughout his career, Davis seemed an enigmatic genius, brusque to the point of rudeness, yet capable of a warm lyricism in his art. Although he was the product of an affluent, upper-middle-class family, he cultivated the demeanor of a surly street hustler. Carr sums up the legendary Davis temperament nicely: ``The inscrutability, the unpredictability, the refusal to be pinned down, the sudden juxtapositions of gentleness and violence.'' The same qualities could be found in his art, as he moved restlessly from the pioneering days of bebop and a youthful apprenticeship with the music's founder, Charlie Parker, through his own rapid-fire series of innovationsthe brilliant ``cool'' and orchestral recordings with arranger Gil Evans, the development of modal-based post-bop with his excellent small groups of the '50s and '60s, his developing interest and work with electric bands, right up to his fascinating, if uneven, post-modernist works of the '80s. Carr recounts these developments intelligently. A musician himself, he is particularly good on the micro-level analysis of recordings and concerts, but his macro-analysis is plagued at times by odd generalizations about ``Western'' and ``non-Western'' elements ostensibly struggling for the upper hand in Davis's music. Though some fans may think he overrates the late recordings with their funk/pop backings, he offers a useful corrective to other writers' casual dismissal of those experiments. Finally, this leviathan would have benefited from some judicious cutting; Carr lets interviews run on too long, and there is a certain repetitiveness that strains the reader's patience for the new material. Despite minor flaws, a generally thoughtful and perceptive reading of the turbulent life and singular work of one of the giants of American music. (40 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.