Do you want to really understand one of the truly great jazz musicians of all time, or is he a hero for you and do you want to preserve that status? If the latter is true, don’t read this book. Miles is himself all through it and you will find here, expressed in his own words, his feelings as a victim of racism and his own racism against whites, his really bad attitude and behavior towards women, and his convoluted self-justification in the face of his many faults. A complicated man, the complexity is all here, and while he remains an awesome artist, this is no hero, no knight in shining armor, no paragon of virtue. He tells a lot of stories here, not only about the music and the bands and all that, but also about his struggles with heroin addiction and his trouble dealing with a society that really doesn’t understand or accommodate the intense personal characteristics, good and bad, that always seem to accompany great artists.
Miles Davis – The great artist as flawed human being
But then, is there any society that ever did? Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, and Vincent Van Gogh weren’t exactly icons of noble demeanor and saintliness, either, and none fit easily into their respective cultures. Art by its nature challenges the comfortable boundaries we erect around ourselves to make the world understandable and predictable. Art is dangerous, and those who are touched with its power live in a world made dangerous by their inspiration and their driven obsessions. In Miles, the genius comes through, and so do the flaws, but then, so do the loves and deep friendships that he developed with others in the jazz music business, people he worked with and who helped manifest his brilliance. An un-whitewashed raw look at the way artistic brilliance operates in the words of a man who had more than his share, and more than his share of what often goes along with it.