Monday, June 30, 2008

Miles: The Autobiography & Miles and Me

Miles: The Autobiography & Miles and Me
The Remarkable Dual Journey of Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe
Antonio G. Pereira © 2008 Antonio G. Pereira

Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe (Published by Simon and Schuster), and Quincy Troupe's follow-up, Miles and Me (Published by University of California Press), are two great pieces of American Literature. In his autobiography, Miles Davis put down his life for posterity. And his choosing of Author, Editor, Journalist and Poet, Quincy Troupe to assist him in this, assured that the story was told correctly. His accurate (and often times brutal) honesty, spared no one; including himself. The Music Critics, portrayed by him (with a few notable exceptions, Leonard Feather, Nat Hentoff and Ralph J. Gleason), as a bunch of know-nothing freeloaders, reluctantly learning as they were led along with each innovation Post-Dixieland (and able to rewrite history later on, in their all-access to publishing {Albert Goldman comes to mind}), are given their just desserts and more. Miles says just about everything many were thinking, but didn't say; and Quincy Troupe took it all down, in detail. Miles deep friendship and admiration for Arranger and Musician Gil Evans, and among others, everyone from Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Bill Evans, John Coltrane to Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Sly Stone and Prince, make great reading (I wish he had said more about his mentoring and helping the marvelously talented Singer and Pianist, Shirley Horn.); and Davis has many stories to tell. Strangely, Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, though a very talented musician, begins to come off as someone out of his depth, and a bit of a bumpkin. Mr. Troupe's own book (which is the follow up to the autobiography), Miles and Me, is one hell of a magnum opus. A clear window into the heart of what it was like to work with Miles Davis. He did not publish it until many, many years after Davis' passing. It's obvious that Mr. Troupe went through quite a catharsis to write this book, and one has the feeling that he felt much better when it was done. Miles is pictured as a very complex, difficult-to-know, human being. And Mr. Troupe's relationship with him was not always an easy one. (Their association began when Troupe did a remarkable two-part interview with Miles Davis for Spin Magazine, in the Nov. and Dec. 1985 issues.) But this book is a wonderful work. Easily a piece of American History that will be read and studied (and probably argued over), long after we have all met our maker (and probably Miles too!). I think to best enjoy this book, put on one of Miles records, and play it softly in the background while you are reading.

Additionally, you can find a wonderful, full colour photograph, of John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Miles Davis at: (Just click on John Lennon Pictures, on the left hand side, after entering the site and choosing your language.)

A final note. Quincy Troupe gave quite an interesting and enlightening interview to The American Poetry Review. You can read it here:

And lastly. In his final group, Miles Davis had an exceptional Bassist/Guitarist named Foley McCreary, who was right out of the tradition of Jimi Hendrix and Pete Cosey. Foley McCreary's very fascinating website is:

Antonio Pereira

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