Allan MacDonell's Reviews > Miles: The Autobiography
Miles: The Autobiography
Allan MacDonell's review
Mar 27, 2011
Miles Davis's autobiography takes no pains whatsoever to varnish the author's reputation as a kind and loving human being. By far, the word that appears more often than any other in Miles: The Autobiography, written in partnership with Quincy Troupe, is that 12-letter, four-syllable all-purpose standby for a person who engages in sexual relations with his own mother. In whip-quick conversational prose that moves with the deft, percussive rhythms of truth when it riffs out hesitation free, Davis describes himself as a man who hits women, a parent who is disappointed in all his children, an acquaintance who rarely keeps a friend for more than a few years, a husband who will not tolerate his mate's intolerance of his dalliances with other women, a drug addict who considers snorts of coke and cognac daily as being clean, and a musical genius who fundamentally changed the direction of music at least four times during his amazingly long and prolific career. Davis also insists, several times, that critics are almost always wrong, especially when they accuse him of hating white people. Indeed, he is just as harsh on black people as he is on whites, and the black person he is harshest upon has to be himself. By far the most notorious trumpet player in jazz, and one of the most influential bandleaders in any genre, Davis takes advantage of his autobiographical bandstand to settle any lingering personal scores—with everyone from iconic players to forgotten club-owners—and correct all misinformed anecdotes concerning himself and the legends who were his contemporaries. This book is raw and revelatory, a miracle of publicist defiance, a gift from a complex mess of a master who committed to telling it like he saw it and felt it, and to hell with you whether you like it—and him—or not.
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March 26, 2011 – Finished Reading
March 27, 2011 – Shelved