From Publishers Weekly
Easily one of the most influential musicians in the history of jazz, Miles Davis is the archetypal jazz artist: a brilliant, elusive and enigmatic virtuoso. Since he arrived in New York in the late 1940s to work with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Davis has transformed the jazz idiom, initiating a series of new jazz movements beginning with the cool jazz period in the early 1950s and continuing with the release of the groundbreaking album Kind of Blue at the end of the decade. But the accolades from jazz critics and fans usually end with his late 1960s work; around that time, Miles abandoned conventional jazz practices to experiment with avant-garde improvisation, rock music and electric instruments, using elaborate, electronic postproduction techniques to hone his studio recordings. Those explorations became what is now known as "fusion." Music journalist Tingen meticulously dissects Miles's bands, sidemen and musical techniques, offering a wealth of candid firsthand commentary on Miles and his music from former sidemen like pianist Herbie Hancock, guitarist John McLaughlin, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and other musicians, as well as Miles's friends, lovers and ex-wives. Most importantly, Tingen examines Miles's always turbulent but wildly creative relationship with Teo Macero, his producer at Columbia Records. Tingen can sometimes be at once presumptuous and contradictory, summarily declaring, for instance, that a recording should have been radically trimmed even after repeatedly praising Miles's knack for minimalist masterpieces. Nevertheless, Tingen has written a lucid, detailed and illuminating study of a generally misunderstood, often critically dismissed period in the creative life of one of this country's greatest musical innovators. The book also contains an extensive musician list, discography, bibliography and sessionology. 10 b&w photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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From Library Journal
Several fine Davis biographies have appeared over the past few years, mostly ignoring or downplaying much of the music discussed here by Tingen, a music journalist based in Scotland and California. Arguing that Davis succumbed to rock influences to the detriment of his jazz stylings, many critics and listeners have denigrated the trumpeter's electric recordings. Tingen traces these experiments using examples from 1967 onward, culminating in Davis's 1969 masterpiece, Bitches Brew. That recording opened floodgates of criticism, but it also attracted a number of new listeners who welcomed the later music of 1969-75, as well as the work following his 1981 return from retirement until his death in 1991. Tingen recognizes that Davis recorded some duds, but he convincingly shows that his subject was entirely serious about developing this style. Featuring firsthand accounts from more than 50 musicians, producers, and colleagues, including Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter, this proves an invaluable work on an oft-neglected aspect of Davis's career. Recommended for all libraries with music holdings, public and academic. William Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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