Miles Dewey Davis III, who would be celebrating his eighty-sixth birthday this Saturday, was one of the great jazz musicians, bandleaders and composers of the twentieth century. His output includes several of the most acclaimed and popular jazz albums, from the relaxed style of Birth of the Cool to the iconic Kind of Blue.
In this biography, brought to you by HopeRoad Publishing, noted jazz critic Brian Morton takes us through the musical history of this remarkable and influential artist and illuminates the personality behind the sound.
Described by Morton as a flawed, complex individual, Davis came from a well-to-do family and his mother was very against his taking up the trumpet, as she felt that the violin or piano would have been more appropriate for her musically talented son.
Fortunately for jazz lovers, he was a rebellious boy and loved the trumpet his father had given him at the age of 13 – mainly to irritate his mother – his parents later divorced.
In this book, Morton takes us through Davis’s early musical development and collaborations with the greats of jazz such as Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, through a well-documented drug habit and a turbulent love life.
The nine times Grammy winner – the last won posthumously – is regarded as one of the greatest influences on modern music, with the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll saying: Miles Davis played a crucial and inevitably controversial role in every major development in jazz since the mid-’40s, and no other jazz musician has had so profound an effect on rock.
Miles died in 1991 aged 65 of a combination of respiratory failure, a stroke and pneumonia. Very much his own man to the end, he could be summed up as he was once by a French jazz magazine: The behaviour of Miles Davis is not that of an ordinary star. It is that of a man who has decided to live without hypocrisy.
A compelling few hours’ reading for anyone with an interest in 20th- century music.
Kenneth Clarke, The Daily Mail.