If you believe Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History is just another rehashing of the man’s life and legacy, well you needn’t.
As we all know, Miles Davis was a motherfucker; the world’s most innovative jazz trumpeter. He was always of the abstract-taking bebop to new heights, defining cool, pushing the limits and artistically discovering musical territory that not even he could define.
The Complete Illustrated History is full of rare and priceless photographs from Miles’ lengthy career. The book brings us along from his upbringing in Alton, Illinois. Upon taking up the trumpet, Miles was told by his music teacher, Joseph Gustat, that he was the worst player he’d ever heard.
From there, the book takes us through the territory and habits of jazz legends who paved the way for Miles like Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. It features amazing photos of a young, vivacious and hot headed Miles performing on stage and in session at various studios spanning his career.
One of the things that sets this book apart from other biographies is its historical essence, displaying a gallery of original album art, and concert posters throughout his career. As you get into the Miles’ “electric” era of the late Sixties and Seventies era, the festival line ups (and resulting photos) were pure genius.
Just think of being at the Schaefer Beer Music Festival at Harvard University Stadium circa 1970, witnessing Miles Davis take the same stage as legends like The Band, Ray Charles, B.B. King, The Grateful Dead, Ike and Tina, Van Morrison, The Supremes, and Janis Joplin. You can only imagine the party that became of all that backstage.The list goes on, and that is just one show mentioned, not to mention the many others that are included like the Isle of Wight Festival and the numerous hard-hitting bills of The Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals.
Schaefer Music Festival line up at Harvard Stadium 1970
Also featured are brilliant essays and recollections by those who witnessed, got to know, and performed with Miles, like saxophonist , Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, George Wein, Bill Cosby, and Frances Davis,-Jazz critic for the Village Voice. Also featured are classic quotes,taken from Miles: The Autobiography and used as captions for particular photos.
Equipped with a concise and accurate history of Miles’ rise to fame, told through over 300 photos, this book is long overdue.
Anyone who considers themselves a fan of Miles Davis is not going to be the least bit disappointed, especially in this sleek coffee table style book.
It’s an alluring collection of infectious content to explore and get lost in. It should not be read without the accompaniment of the man’s music played at high volume. You won’t find anything like this on a Kindle or even on a computer screen. It’s just not possible. Although digital media has become us, very few books can exist outside of that realm. Miles Davis:The Complete Illustrated History is confirmation that it’s possible.
Purchase the book at any fine book retailer, as well as, of course, Amazon.com