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Milestones: The Music And Times Of Miles Davis Paperback – August 22, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Chambers, the author of several books, lives in Canada, where he is professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 838 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (August 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306808498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306808494
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
By the time I found out about Jack Chambers' Miles biographies (two volumes, originally) they had been combined into this single book with some new material that brings the original manuscripts from the 1980's up to date. Despite the heading on this site, this is the complete 800-odd page monster bio, not an "introduction"!
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.
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Format: Paperback
Jack Chambers has done a very hard task and that is to present the life of the legendary Miles Davis to readers in a very interesting, yet complex style which was reflective of the way Miles Davis led his life and music.
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.
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Format: Paperback
"Milestones" is THE Miles Davis book to read. It has a wealth of knowledge of recording information, including Miles' early days as a sideman for Charlie Parker (which includes details of their rocky frienship). There is also a great account of the evolution of jazz and reveals the trials faced by upcoming jazzmen in the early 20th century. The book deals with Miles' problems with women, drugs and his 6-year seclusion without hype or pompousness, as well as his sometimes unusual method of recruiting musicians. It also puts to print the never-ending health problems Miles had that metaphorically ended up in the wailing of his trumpet (after reading it you will probably never hear of or know anyone who dealt with so many illnesses & ailments as much as Miles; it's a miracle he lived to be 65).
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review started as a comment on one of the other reviews, a negative one. I'm going to leave it intact but it will read awkwardly. My first Miles LP was Nefertiti which I purchased in 1968, so I've been a fan for a while. I bought Bitches Brew way back when and probably played it once. I kept waiting for someone to take a solo and found it boring. I have always liked the first side of Jack Johnson, especially the beginning through the end of MIles' solo, which is probably my all time favorite solo by him. I bought Get Up With It way back when and probably forced myself to play it once. Who wants to hear Miles play organ?

So starting this book my collection was covered for the Bird recordings and the Prestige box with Trane, Columbia box with Trane, 60s quintet box, On the Corner, Fillmore, Birth of Cool. Reading this made me realize the big gap between Birth of Cool and Trane. I bought Bag's Groove especially for the two Monk cuts but I feel like I need more there, especially the Sonny Rollins sides.

Which brings me to the electric stuff and the comeback stuff. Reading the book got me to rebuy Bitches Brew on CD and to relisten to On the Corner. I have to say this book has helped me to accept those recordings on their own terms and not as letdowns from the mid 60s. The book has also encouraged me to try a comeback album and I've ordered We Want Miles since that gets pretty positive reviews.

What got me to write and amend my original comment and then turn it into this review were all the negative comments from reviewers who slam with author for his opinions of the electric period. I saw lots of positive comments by the author here and inclusions of positive reviews.
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