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So What: The Life of Miles Davis Paperback – January 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
What the author seems to do is pick and choose among the previously-revealed tidbits about Miles and use them as supplements to 1) his open-minded knowledge about the entirety of Davis' music (as well as the cultural and commercial environment in which it was created), and 2) fresh, revealing interviews he conducted with family members and others close to the subject at key points in his life. Having unprecedented access to Davis' family was possibly the missing piece of the puzzle needed to really reconcile what was already known about Miles with the many contradictions that sat unresolved for decades (e.g., tough exterior, insecure interior).Read more ›
To the reader familiar with the Miles' literature, the first 300 pages are bound to seem much like recycled material, leavened occasionally by a quote from an acquaintaince of Miles heretofore not on the record. Moreover, it's hard not to experience impatience at yet another explanation of "bebop," at the gratuitous introductions of jazz giants (e.g. to learn that Sonny Stitt played alto saxophone and sounded like Bird), and at yet another extended description of Miles' major recording sessions ("Kind of Blue," "Sketches of Spain," "In a Silent Way," "B's Brew").
Close to a quarter of the book's representation of Miles' 65 years is devoted to the years 1969-1971. The "Silent Way" recording session is afforded 24 pages whereas the author finds 8 pages sufficient to handle the "Kind of Blue" session.Read more ›
The book seems to be written more for those interested in miles the artist and miles the man than miles the musician. There is not too much musical analysis, and I didn't have too much of a problem with that.
Chambers book goes into greater detail and is still my first recommendation for those seriously interested in Miles, but this can be a good intro and will definitely give folks a greater sense of this powerful figure of jazz.
All the main events of Davis' life are touched on in a concise, workmanlike fashion. His family and financial problems are outlined in considerable detail and, while hardly edifying, will nevertheless be of interest to many fans. Szwed does do a superb job throughout of deconstructing and explaining the creation and maintenance of Miles' public persona. And it is indeed a persona worth deconstructing. No personality in the history of jazz so permeates the modern jazz sensibility and so seduces the imagination of its enthusiasts as does the great (and wicked) Mr. Davis. In the end, though, Szwed seems just as flummoxed as other commentators in grasping (much less explaining) precisely why Miles Davis came to be one of the towering figures in 20th century music.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
John Szwed's biography of Miles Davis is probably the definitive study so far. Szwed is excellent On Davis's childhood in Alton and East St. Read morePublished 6 months ago by NRL
Although the author acknowledges up front that there are a lot of gaps, there is still an undeniable continuity and understated authenticity to this (yet another) story of Miles'... Read morePublished on August 2, 2010 by Herbert L Calhoun
Miles was a deep guy, a musician's musician. This book is written by a musician with a lot of information that will mean more to musicians than lay readers. Read morePublished on February 10, 2010 by Jon Norstog
Miles Davis was a musical trailblazer. His creations and style of music put him far from the mainstream, and set him apart from other great musicians, who abounded in the 1950',... Read morePublished on October 10, 2009 by Pugwash
I read Miles' autobiography in all of it's shocking and hysterical glory regarding his personal life. Read morePublished on December 31, 2006 by Mark
I had always been puzzled by the deification of Miles Davis. Yes, he was a good trumpet player and bandleader, but the idolization of him always baffled me. Read morePublished on August 7, 2006 by Howard Wexler
In a way this is really a review of some of the prior reviews, above; it's odd that so much bad writing on popular music and jazz gets so highly praised, and yet when a book of the... Read morePublished on June 9, 2006 by Allen Lowe
Yale jazz historian Szwed established his credentials with an excellent biography of jazz eccentric Sun Ra (Space Is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra ). Read morePublished on January 29, 2006 by David Keymer
I've read most every book about Miles Davis. So I don't know why I was expecting to learn many new things from this book. Read morePublished on March 12, 2003 by Drak