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am 6. Juli 1999
This is a powerful book. The way in which Miles conveys his message to the reader is so gripping that you can't help but be enthralled. There is so much to absorb that it will definitely leave you satisfied. What I liked the most about this book is how he described his relationships with the other prominent jazz musicians of the 40s and 50s. His insights gave me a much clearer sense of jazz history, and it also gave me some interesting background information I could keep in mind as I listen to the old CDs. (The pictures are an added bonus.)
Although I think this is an excellent book, I must say it is not without its flaws. I think the first two-thirds of the book (the first 13 chapters, which cover the period between his birth and the late 60s--when he became electric/funk oriented) are MUCH more engaging than the final seven chapters, which cover everything up to the present. His vulgar, yet powerful tone remains consistent throughout the book, but he starts talking more about drugs and his problems with with women while he only glosses over what he was doing musically.
And when he starts talking about the musicians in his later bands, he often only presents a laundry list of names without really going into any detail about their character or any experiences he's shared with them (like he did with those in the first half of the book). This can bog the reader down because it makes it difficult to identify with what's going on. He just says "I liked what so-and-so was playing" or something like that, and that can get repetitive.
Also, the way he ends the later chapters doesn't really grip the reader and compel him to read further like the way he ended the earlier chapters. In a way, sometimes his writing becomes cliche and predictable, and it makes me wonder if Miles was becoming increasingly impatient as the book progressed.
I don't know if the final few chapters of the book are more boring because he's talking about drugs a lot or if it's because he's not playing jazz or if it's because the people and musicians in his life seem more anonymous or if it's because his later musicians were more obscure, but whatever it is, it's frustrating.
But despite all this, the wild ride Miles takes us on during the first 13 chapters or so makes this book more than worth the price of admission.
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