Monday, January 19, 2015

Miles on Monday: Looking back at
the electric music of Miles Davis

When Miles Davis went electric in the late 1960s, his new direction sparked discussion and controversy that persist into the present day. The trumpeter's electric music has been the subject of an uncountable number of conversations, reviews and critical essays, as well as a couple of books that supplement their examinations of the topic with websites offering a lot of additional material to consider.

Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis 1967-1991, written by Paul Tingen and published in 2001, is based on interviews with musicians who worked with Davis. The accompanying web site offers samples from the book, as well as news updates, photographs, memorabilia, and 50,000 additional words of articles.

The Last Miles is a 2005 book by George Cole that focuses specifically on Davis' final decade from 1981 to 1991. It's based on interviews with band members (from that time period and before), producers, engineers, members of Miles’ road crew, photographers, and video directors who worked with Davis. As with Miles Beyond, the book's website includes samples from the text as well as lots of supplemental material that's been added since publication, adding up to hours worth of reading.

For another perspective on Davis' electric music from someone who was a participant in it, check out the discussion in the embedded video windows below. It's a debate that took place in 2010 at the Amistad Center for Art & Culture in Hartford, CT between James "Mtume" Forman, the percussionist and producer who worked with Davis in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and author and critic Stanley Crouch, who remains skeptical of the trumpeter's work after 1967.

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