Miles Davis Biography

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Big Daddy, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Jimi Michiel

    Jimi Michiel Forte User

    Mar 22, 2005
    Miles led one of the most complex lives of any musician in the modern era. The only other figure who rivals him is Stravinsky. Can you imagine the same man behind Birth of the Cool was also behind Tutu? It's almost as difficult as imagining that the composer of Firebird also composed Symphony of Psalms. Miles and Stravinsky also had very similar personalities. Their autobiographies read similarly. There's a lot out there, and no single book does the job. For my money, the most accurate portraits of Miles are presented in Miles and Me (a memoir written by Quincy Troupe) and Paul Tingen's Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, which contains a lot of first hand anecdotal material from his sidemen. I spent a couple years doing interviews and digging through archives to pull apart the different takes on Davis' time at Juilliard, and my conclusion was simply that Miles was such a complex person that the only complete picture is one that encompasses all of the different accounts.

  2. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Interesting Jimi, thanks for your insight.
  3. operagost

    operagost Forte User

    Jan 25, 2009
    Spring City, PA, USA
    Most of the world disagrees with you.
  4. operagost

    operagost Forte User

    Jan 25, 2009
    Spring City, PA, USA
    It's proof he tested HIV positive.
  5. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Yes, and he likely shot heroin at some point too, so what does the HIV thing say really? That, and his sexual orientation (whatever that may be) were parts of his life experience and as such may have influenced his playing, but so did everything else that was part of his life. I'm not sure it is of much interest to us as trumpet players and I am not convinced we need to dwell on this. I'd rather talk about how, musically, he came to move from Bebop to the Cool and then from there to the other styles he created.
  6. Bixel

    Bixel Pianissimo User

    Jan 1, 2010
    Rumours? Facts? Wikipedia?

    Right. That's a pretty good reason to not completely forget about his drug consumption and his sexual life.
    Remember: this thread is about Miles' biography, not (solely) Miles' music.

    If ever somebody should write my biography I would be rather embarrassed if the author would claim my music would sound like my sexual life had been of no meaning and of no influence to my music.
    I assume Miles would feel similarly.


    If you prefer to reduce Miles' life to his music - feel free!
    But stay aware of the fact that you do/did reduce!
  7. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    It is true that the thread is about biographies. However we're talking about the biography of a musician.

    I have no problem with reducing. I never knew the man personally. His music has added a lot to my life, I can't say the same about other parts of his experience. I would therefore prefer to read about the side of the man that has mattered to me the most.

    What is Miles famous for? In what area was he an extraordinary man? Certainly not his sexual life or his drug use, however extensive it was (I don't really care). Because Jazz musicians often have tendencies to trangress some societal norms, these tendencies become associated with their artistry. However, exactly how the 2 relate is unclear, if they even do relate at all. There are tons of people out there who have non conventional sexual orientation and/or do drugs and their lives are of no interest whatsoever to those who don't know them personally. By the same token, there are tons of people of outstanding artistic ability, who have no trangressive tendencies.

    Interestingly, nobody ever mentions these things when they are conventional. Would we have the same conversation about Maurice Andre?

    What I'm most interested in is the artistry, so yes, I will reduce somewhat.
  8. Bay Area Brass

    Bay Area Brass Piano User

    Mar 2, 2007
    San Francisco
    Miles Davis is among a hand full of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century, changing the way music was played and the way the trumpet was played as well. These are the things I focus on when thinking about his life and legacy.
  9. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    Who cares? Most of the world is composed of idiots, morons and other mouth breathers. What "most of the world" believes is completely irrelevant. Most of the world is stupid. If you really want to know stuff you have to do some real research, not just believe everything you hear from other know-nothing cretins.
  10. Big Daddy

    Big Daddy Mezzo Piano User

    Mar 22, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Wanted to say many thanks to you all! I read, "Miles : The Autobiography" and it was hard to put down as I whipped through it. It was an excellent read and I could hear his voice as I read the words. It was a Mu%^erf#@*er.

    I also read and enjoyed the other recommended book, "Chet Baker, As Though I Had Wings".

    "Charles Mingus - Beyond The Underdog" wasn't my cup of tea, due to the way his biography was written almost as a novel. I couldn't get into it because of that style of Bio. (especially after reading Miles) I took it back after reading only a little and purchased, "Thelonious Monk - The Life and Times of an American Original". This one is good so far.

    -Thanks Again!
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010

Share This Page