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Miles and Me

Quincy Troupe
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 189
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  • Book Info
    Miles and Me
    Book Description:

    Quincy Troupe's candid account of his friendship with Miles Davis is a revealing portrait of a great musician and an intimate study of a unique relationship. It is also an engrossing chronicle of the author's own development, both artistic and personal. As Davis's collaborator onMiles: The Autobiography,Troupe--one of the major poets to emerge from the 1960s--had exceptional access to the musician. This memoir goes beyond the life portrayed in the autobiography to describe in detail the processes of Davis's spectacular creativity and the joys and difficulties his passionate, contradictory temperament posed to the men's friendship. It shows how Miles Davis, both as a black man and an artist, influenced not only Quincy Troupe but whole generations. Troupe has written that Miles Davis was "irascible, contemptuous, brutally honest, ill-tempered when things didn't go his way, complex, fair-minded, humble, kind and a son-of-a-bitch." The author's love and appreciation for Davis make him a keen, though not uncritical, observer. He captures and conveys the power of the musician's presence, the mesmerizing force of his personality, and the restless energy that lay at the root of his creativity. He also shows Davis's lighter side: cooking, prowling the streets of Manhattan, painting, riding his horse at his Malibu home. Troupe discusses Davis's musical output, situating his albums in the context of the times--both political and musical--out of which they emerged.Miles and Meis an unparalleled look at the act of creation and the forces behind it, at how the innovations of one person can inspire both those he knows and loves and the world at large.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92906-7
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. prologue
    (pp. 1-8)

    Miles Davis was a great poet on his instrument. His horn could blow warm, round notes that spoke to the deepest human emotions, and it could spit out cracked trills that evoked the angry sounds of bullets firing. Sometimes his trumpet seemed to float over and through remarkably complex rhythms and time signatures with heart-stopping speed and efficiency. His sound could penetrate like a sharp knife. It could also be muted, tender and low, like a lullaby, but it was always charged with deeply felt emotion. Miles’ sound always made us sit up and take notice. It was burnished, brooding,...

  4. one meeting miles
    (pp. 9-38)

    I first met Miles Davis in 1978 or so at a party at a Dr. Leo Maitland’s. Leo, who had at one time been one of Miles’ doctors, lived down the hall from me at 382 Central Park West and had become a very good friend. I had been listening to Miles since 1954 and he had been a hero to me for a long time. But by 1978 I wasn’t listening to his records as much as I had earlier in my life, although I still loved going to hear him play live.

    Before I actually met Miles at...

  5. two up close and personal
    (pp. 39-110)

    TheSpinarticle turned out great. In fact, the piece, published in November and December 1985, was the first two-part featureSpinever ran. Rudy Langlais, my editor from theVillage Voicewho had moved toSpin, did a fantastic editing job on it. My future wife, Margaret’s, criticism was very helpful, too. (She called the first draft “a piece of shit” and it was. So I rewrote it, and she loved the rewrite.) Everyone who read it was knocked out by it. But, most important, Miles loved it. He called me and told me so. After our brief but...

  6. three listening to miles
    (pp. 111-156)

    I entered the world of jazz through a Miles Davis record I heard back in 1955, when I was fifteen years old. I had gone into a fish joint—on Fair Avenue in my hometown, St. Louis, Missouri—to get a jack-salmon fish sandwich (actually a kind of whiting that St. Louis blacks called “jack-salmon”). It could have been a a summer weekday or a Saturday during the school year. I don’t remember. All I recall now of walking into that small, nondescript place, since destroyed by so-called urban renewal, is that it was daytime and the sun was shining....

  7. four saying good-bye
    (pp. 157-162)

    When Miles Davis died on September 28, 1991, in Santa Monica, California, of heart failure brought on by diabetes and pneumonia, he died in Jo Gelbard’s arms. Jo’s mother, Iris Kaplan, also a painter, told me this when Margaret and I had dinner with her and her husband, Lenny, a few months after Miles’ death. Iris told me that Jo had sensed he was going and just climbed into bed with him right before the end.

    Just like that, he was gone. All that fierce energy, all that light and all that darkness. Gone. Just like that. A stroke paralyzed...

  8. epilogue
    (pp. 163-176)

    Miles Davis has been dead for almost a decade now and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him and his galvanizing presence. Today his five-story-high, black-and-white photographic image is on view on the sides of buildings all across America, in Sony’s “Make a Difference” ads. His trumpet and later group sound—as inTutu, Decoy,andAmandla—are imitated in commercials we hear every day on America’s television and radio airwaves. New jazz luminaries such as Cassandra Wilson, Mark Isham, Leo Smith, and many others pay homage to his work. He had an immeasurable influence on my...

  9. index
    (pp. 177-191)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 192-192)