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Bookshelf: Miles Davis, The Definitive Biography by Ian Carr

Paperback: 688 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press (December 20, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1560259671
ISBN-13: 978-1560259671
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1.8 inches

Editorial Reviews

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.

This exhaustively researched, revised edition of Ian Carr's classic biography throws new light on Davis' life and career: from the early days in New York with Charlie Parker; to the Birth of Cool; through his drug addiction in the early 1950s and the years of extraordinary achievements (1954-1960), during which he signed with Columbia and collaborated with such unequaled talents as John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and Cannonball Adderly. Carr also explores Davis' dark, reclusive period (1975-1980), offering firsthand accounts of his descent into addiction, as well as his dramatic return to life and music. Carr has talked with the people who knew Miles and his music best including Bill Evans, Joe Zawinul, Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette, and has conducted interviews with Ron Carter, Max Roach, John Scofield and others.

About the Author
Ian Carr was born in Scotland and educated at Kings College, Newcastle. He is a professional musician who has done regular jazz broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and has written for the BBC Music Magazine. He is the author of Music Outside (1973) and Keith Jarrett, the Man and his Music (1991).

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