The Last Miles - the Music Of Miles Davis 1980 - 1991
the last miles
the music of Miles Davis 1980 - 1991
a book by George Cole

published by Equinox Publishing in the UK
and University of Michigan Press in the USA
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As a celebration of the anniversary of Miles's 80th birthday, here's a list of various musical facts.

  1. There were three guitarists on The Man With The Horn album – Mike Stern, Barry Finnerty and Randy Hall.
  2. The track "The Man With The Horn" was one of the few Miles tracks to feature vocals (others include "Nothing Like You" and "Blow.")
  3. All but one track on The Man With The Horn ("Shout") was named after somebody.
  4. Every one of the four young Chicagoans who played on The Man With The Horn went on to work with Miles later on in the decade, with all but one of them (Randy Hall), joining Miles's band.
  5. Producer Teo Macero and engineer Stanley Tonkel had worked with Miles in the 1960s and 1970s.
  6. Miles had planned to work with guitarist Pete Cosey, but the project was abandoned.
  7. Miles talent-spotted percussionist Mino Cinelu at a club in Harlem.
  8. Saxophonist Bill Evans recommended Marcus Miller, Mike Stern and John Scofield.
  9. No one seems to know the origins of "Jean-Pierre", one of Miles's best known tunes of the 1980s.
  10. Columbia has originally planned to release the full concert Miles's band played at the Avery Fisher Hall on July 5 1981, but in the end, only one tune ("Back Seat Betty") was included.
  11. "Fast Track" is another name for "Aida."

  12. Star People

  13. The Star People album contains two live tracks "Come Get It" and "Speak."
  14. At the time of writing, "Speak" is the only official release of the John Scofield/Mike Stern line-up and to feature bassist Tom Barney.
  15. Star People was the last time Teo Macero and Gil Evans worked with Miles.
  16. "Freaky Deaky" was the first studio track to be solely produced by Miles.
  17. The famous thumbed bass on the track "Decoy" was as a result of a last-second instruction by Miles to bassist Darryl Jones.
  18. Branford Marsalis got to record with Miles as a result of him playing in a band that opened for Miles at a concert in St Louis.
  19. Mlles named "Decoy" after a track that had been written for The Rolling Stones – he only used the title and not the music.
  20. Another version of "Freaky Deaky" had Miles playing horn on it.
  21. Bill Evans only apears on the two live tracks on Decoy – "What It Is" and "That's What Happened."

  22. Decoy
  23. Violinist Viktoria Mullova recorded five versions of "Robot 415."
  24. After recording the Decoy album, Miles planned an album of pop ballads that would be arranged by Gil Evans. This was later abandoned.
  25. Only three tracks from the planned pop album: "Time After Time," "Human Nature" and "Something's On Your Mind" ended up on the album that became "You're Under Arrest."
  26. Al Foster was replaced by Miles's nephew and drummer Vince Wilburn Jr on the You're Under Arrest album.
  27. Guitarist John McLaughlin guested on two 1980s albums – Aura and You're Under Arrest.
  28. Miles recorded at least several studio versions of "Time After Time" including one that lasted almost nine minutes.
  29. Miles's artwork featured on a number of albums included Star People, Decoy, You're Under Arrest and Amandla. He also did the artwork for one 12-inch version of "Time After Time."
  30. Miles played at a concert featuring the music of Aura in Copenhagen in December 1984.
  31. Aura was left in the vaults for more than four years.
  32. When Miles moved to Warner Bros in 1985, he was planning to record an album called Rubberband, which was to include vocal appearances by Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan. The album was scrapped.

  33. Tutu

  34. Miles recorded a Prince track "Can I Play With U?" which was also abandoned.
  35. Marcus Miller was originally only going to record three tracks with Miles, but was later asked to write almost all of Tutu.
  36. Toto's Steve Porcaro (who co-wrote "Human Nature") planned to record two tracks with Miles, but the project was never completed.
  37. George Duke wrote several tracks for Miles, but ony one was used on Tutu, "Backyard Ritual." The other tracks were recorded by Diane Reeves and the group 101 North, which Duke produced.
  38. Omar Hakim was the only session musician to play on Miles's first three Warner Bros albums.
  39. "Portia" was a female's name that Marcus Miller liked, but it isn't named after anyone in particular.
  40. The album Tutu was originally going to be called Perfect Way.
  41. Violinist Michal Urbaniak, who appears on "Don't Lose Your Mind," was first spotted by Miles on The Johnny Carson Show.
  42. Miles not only recorded Scritti Politti's "Perfect Way" but guested on their track "Oh Patti."
  43. Tutu won two Grammy awards.

  44. Amandla

  45. Spike Lee directed the Tutu videos.
  46. Siesta saw Miles reunited with guiaritst John Scofield for the title track – Miles asked for John.
  47. "Conchita" was used by US skater Nancy Kerrigan for her routine in the 1992 Olympics.
  48. Amandla was originally going to be recorded in the same way as Tutu, with Marcus Miller playing most of the instruments, but later on, it was decided to use more musicians.
  49. The George Duke track "Cobra" is so-called because the shape of Miles's head reminded him of a snake.
  50. Amandla saw Miles playing with several members from Miles's previous bands – Al Foster, Mino Cinelu and the late Don Alias (and of course, Marcus Miller!).
  51. "Catembe," "Jo-Jo," "Jilli", "Hannibal" and "Mr Pastorius" were all named after people or places.
  52. Amandla marked the last time Miles worked with Marcus Miller and Tommy LiPuma.
  53. Saxophonist Rick Margitza, who played on "Jo-Jo" later joined Miles's for a short while in the summer of 1989.
  54. Miles recorded a number of soundtracks in this period – Siesta, Dingo, The Hot Spot, Scrooged and Street Smart.

  55. Doo Bop

  56. Public Enemy's Chuck D and Flavor Flav were considered by Miles for the album that became Doo-Bop.
  57. Miles had planned to include a number of tunes by Prince on Doo-Bop, including "Nothing Compares 2 U."
  58. Miles's last gig was at the Hollywood Bowl on 25 August 1991. A little over a month later, he was dead.
  59. The Live Around The World album contains the only offically released tune from Miles's last concert - an edited version of " Hannibal."
  60. Two tracks on Doo-Bop, "Fantasy" and "High Speed Chase" were recorded after Miles's death and used trumpet recordings made in 1985.
  61. Miles guested on a number of artists albums including Toto, Scritti Politti, Cameo and Shirely Horn.
  62. Miles also appears on solo albums by Marcus Miller and Kenny Garrett.
  63. Miles's band line-ups often had dual instrument line-ups including Mike Stern and John Scofield (guitar), Steve Thornton and Marilyn Mazur (percussion), Robert Irving III and Adam Holzman, Adam Holzman and Joey DeFrancesco, Kei Akagi and John Beasley, Adam Holzman and Kei Akagi. (keyboards). Two saxophone line-ups consisted of Bob Berg and Donald Harrison, Bob Berg and Gary Thomas, and Gary Thomas and Kenny Garrett. And if you want to be technical, you could also add a number of dual-bassist line-ups as Foley plays lead bass and not guitar!
  64. Robert Irving III was the first specialist keyboardist in Miles's band for ten years (although Miles was not playing for half of this period!).
  65. Bassist Angus Thomas, who played with Miles in late 1985, taught Darryl Jones how to play bass.

  66. Foley

  67. Marilyn Mazur was the only female member of a Miles Davis band.
  68. Robben Ford was introduced to Miles by Tommy LiPuma.
  69. Between April 1986 and May 1987 Miles had seven guitarists.
  70. Foley got the gig as result of Miles hearing Marcus Miller playing a Foley demo during a phone call.
  71. Carlos Santana joined Miles on-stage at an Amnesty concert in June 1986.
  72. Mino Cinelu, Darryl Jones, Mike Stern and Marilyn Mazur all left Miles's bands and rejoined at a later date.
  73. Chaka Khan, David Sanborn and George Duke all sat in with Miles's bands at Montreux Jazz concerts.
  74. Bassist Darryl Jones went on play with The Rolling Stones, Bassist Richard Patterson joined David Sanborn's band, while bassist Benny Rietveld joined Santana.
  75. John Bigham's first instrument is guitar, but he played percussion with Miles's band in late 1989.
  76. Miles's youngest son Erin played percussion in the band in 1990, after he left, Miles dispensed with a specialist percussionist – the first time his band lacked one.

  77. Erin Davis
    Erin Davis

  78. Miles and Kenny Garrett played together in Tokyo in December 1990 at a John Lennon tribute concert. They played over a backing track of "Strawberry Fields Forever."
  79. Miles recorded the track "Dune Mosse" with Italian singer Zucchero, but the track wasn't released for sixteen years.
  80. Miles recorded with another Italian artist, Paolo Rustichelli.
  81. Simply Red singer Mick Hucknell and guitarist/producer Daniel Lanois (who's worked with Bob Dylan and U2) both claim that Miles expressed an interest in working with them.
  82. Shortly before he died, Miles was planning to work with Brazillian artist Ivan Lins.
  83. Keith Jarrett, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Teo Macero, Shirley Horn, Dave Liebman and four members of the second great quintet (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) are amongst those who recorded tribute albums to Miles.
  84. "Tutu" is the most covered song from this period. Artists that have recorded versions include: Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, Hotel X, Cassandra Wilson, World Saxophone Quartet, Marcus Miller, plus two various artists line-ups.
  85. The Miles tribute concert in July 1991 in Paris included guest appearances from Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Dave Holland, Steve Grossman, Chick Corea and the late Jackie McLean.
  86. Deron Johnson was the last member of a Miles Davis band to record in the studio with Miles (he played keyboards on several Doo-Bop tracks).
  87. Foley, Kenny Garrett, Deron Johnson, Richard Patterson and Ricky Wellman were the last members of a Miles Davis band – his incredible musical lineage ends here.


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‘The best Miles Davis book ever.’ Randy Hall, singer/guitarist/producer, who worked with Miles in the 1980s

‘An important book.’ Brian Priestley, co-author of ‘The Rough Guide to Jazz’, jazz pianist, critic and reviewer

‘Very moving, emotional material.’ Gordon Meltzer, Miles’s last road manager and executive producer of the ‘Doo-Bop’ album

‘George Cole’s writing, his choice of references, his descriptions of many incidents – it is all so clear and respectful, and shows a deep understanding.’ Palle Mikkelborg, composer, arranger and producer of the ‘Aura’ album

"Wow! What a great book. Finally, something that really gets it right. Thank you for capturing what was going on, the mood, everything." Adam Holzman, Miles’s keyboardist and musical director 1985-1989

"Wonderful job, congratulations! An immense amount of work must have gone into it, I can't even imagine. But it was very cool to see that era of Miles treated with the same respect as every other... someone gets it!" Benny Rietveld, Miles's bassist 1988-1990

"The book is wonderful. Congratulations for your very important contribution to the historical documentation of many [musicians] who would otherwise have been overlooked!!!!" Robert Irving III Miles’s musical director 1983-1988

"I have to say that you did a marvellous job! It brought back strong memories of that time period and answered a number of questions I had, especially the chapter on the Rubberband sessions. A brilliant job!" Patrick Murray, who worked on the road with Miles from 1986-1990 and was Miles’s concert sound mixer from 1988-1990

"It is truly an excellent body of work that literally takes a reader from hearing rumours to realising truths about the Chicago group and our collective take on the Miles Davis comeback." Glenn Burris, co-writer of "Shout"

"The most immediate impact that this book had on me was to make me listen again to Miles’ later recordings with a completely regenerated ear and this really is the reason why this book works so well and is an essential read for any true Miles Davis appreciator… you will be hard pressed to find a more inspirational read, written by a man who quite simply loves Miles Davis’ music." Mike Chadwick,

"There are large chunks of fresh material here…Fill[s] in quite a few gaps and dismisses blanket condemnations of [Miles’s] pop phase." Stephen Graham, Jazzwise

"Cole does for Miles’ late work what Ian Macdonald’s ‘Revolution In The Head’ does for The Beatles, examining each album in meticulous detail." John Lewis, Time Out

"Cole’s analysis has a meticulous, forensic character… [and] is able to bring a wealth of new information to light….This book should get people talking. It should be the first rather than the last word on an intriguing chapter of the life an extraordinarily complex artist. And Davis’s vanity would surely have loved that." Kevin Le Gendre, Independent on Sunday

"The book is beautiful. I think you did a great job on covering Miles’s life and legacy." Sid Reynolds, hip-hop producer

"GREATFUCKINJOBWITDABOOK" Foley, Miles’s lead bassist 1987-1991

"Cole’s certainly produced a fascinating book." Chris Ingham, Mojo

"As with any good musical biography, Cole had made me think again about those albums such as Siesta, You’re Under Arrest, The Man with the Horn, that are now stashed in my attic."  John Bungey, The Times

"I thought it was wonderful. It’s a very detailed look at a certain part of the career and life of Miles Davis. A lot of people didn’t pay attention to this and I’m glad that George Cole took the time to focus on these final years of Miles’s life." Easy Mo Bee, co-producer of Doo-Bop

"Many people have come to me in the past about how the "last miles" bands had been overlooked and ignored by journalists. This book is a comprehensive answer to these omissions. From my discussions with musicians from the latter years with Miles it seems pretty clear they feel some vindication as a result of this book. I thank you sincerely for telling our story. Most everything I have read is as close to my memory of how things happened as any book could hope to be. I think you've done a wonderful job." Darryl Jones, bassist with Miles 1983-85, 1986-1988

"The title is likely to send most jazzbos running, with received wisdom having handed down the rule that in the 80's Miles was only good for playing live; and half of that was just the pleasure of seeing him in person.  For a single man to take on the 400-page+ task of changing popular opinion is a very tall order indeed.  For him to make you want to actively revisit the decade in question is a near-miracle. Detailing album histories and giving final verdicts, Cole has made every effort to lay the evidence out bare.  The analysis could have been a chore were it not for the presence of first-hand interviews with all the major players, making this not just a scholarly study, but a tribute to the man himself,  And for a book such as this, you learn more about Davis that could have been expected." Jason Draper, Record Collector

"There simply hasn’t been another book published on Miles Davis, in any period that has managed to obtain the wealth of interview material and cover his recorded work and various live tours in such a complete and comprehensive fashion... Engagingly written from start to finish, filled with more facts than you’ll be able to remember first time through, The Last Miles is an essential portrait of Miles’ last decade and a strong argument that his music was both valid and perfectly in keeping with a musical philosophy that would ultimately stretch over six decades." John Kelman, All About

"We veterans of Miles’ last bands are lucky to have such a thorough and insightful look into Miles last period...I really enjoyed the book!" John Scofield, Miles's guitarist 1982-1985

"Cole has spoken to practically everyone who worked with Miles in his final decade. He has traced the evolution of each of those final albums, cut by cut, splice by splice….[Miles] comes out of Cole’s account larger, warmer and if anything even more important than ever." Brian Morton (co-writer of The Penguin Guide to Jazz), The Wire

"Through lively analyses of all Miles’ recorded work from this period and much that went unreleased, including the ‘lost’ album Rubberband, [Cole] does enough to send readers back to the original albums." Simon Evans, Choice

"... Cole is a persuasive writer: he prompted me to go and dig out albums that I'd dismissed as inconsequential and listen again with fresh ears. ...  A rewarding read" Charles Waring, Blues & Soul

"Cole takes us on an exhaustive journey deep into the heart of Miles’ late recordings…The Last Miles needs to be covered by working musicians, producers and Miles’ fans alike." Livingstone Marquis, Straight, No Chaser

" George Cole has written a book that should be required reading for anyone with a serious interest in Davis’ life and work irrespective of which period of his music you prefer. It offers a valuable insight into this most complex of personalities, and reveals a side to Miles that many may not have known existed…for this reader it has prompted a re-examination of this decade which has revealed a fascinating area of music that I had previously overlooked." Nick Lea,

"In the flurry of books since [Miles Davis's] death, none has dealt in depth with the music of this period. Music writer George Cole fills this gap. . . It is so detailed and intimate that the reader feels he is virtually living with Davis as he seeks to reinvent himself… a rich and rewarding read." Irwin Block, The Montreal Gazette

"This is a must for every Miles fan." Neal Gardner,

“A fantastic book, an amazing insight into Miles. Guy Barker, jazz trumpeter

“For Miles fans, this book is a must.” Jez Nelson, presenter BBC Radio Jazz on 3

“I really do recommend The Last Miles…it is a fine work.” John Cavanagh, presenter Radio Scotland’s Bebop to Hip-Hop

"A great book that plays a great tribute to the last years of Miles’ life.” Erik Telford, presenter Miles

"The fact of having personally interviewed all those characters...without much recall to interviews already noted and the usual anecdotes, renders "The Last Miles" as excellent...a book that certainly is seen as a work of reference."Maurizio Comandini, All About Italy

"[Cole] has written a comprehensive account of the comeback and the albums it produced...He takes the reader through each of the albums, cut by cut, examining the musical choices, the musicians and their successes...Cole's book is a valuable resource on the last 11 years of a true music legend's life."Chris Smith, Winnipeg Free Press

"I've been thoroughly enjoying your book. I'm sure it'll go a long way towards rectifying some of the negative historical appraisals of  Miles' later works that have become prevalent." Kei Akagi, keyboardist in Miles's band 1989-1990.

"Cole gives an exhaustive account of every track recorded [and, it seems, every live show] in that decade and of every one of the dozens of musicians who played on them but what's most interesting is the portrait of Miles Davis that emerges from it all. Sometimes an asshole and a bully, yes, but also a very funny guy who was a good friend to many and a mentor to even more, a man with drug problems who was more often in great pain from other maladies. Through it all, Davis was obsessed with moving his music forward with anyone who could help him do it - from Prince to Public Enemy, from Scritti Politti to a violinist he saw on Johnny Carson and hired on the spot." Rock & Rap Confidential

"I thought your book was awesome and straight to the point. To tell stories the way it really happened is nothing but the truth! Congratulations and thanks!"Ricky Wellman, Miles's drummer 1987-1991

"George Cole has made a major contribution to jazz scholarship...written over a three-year period, the degree of detail is quite astonishing and the research so extensive that it becomes possible to contradict claims made by Miles himself in his autobiography. Every track on every 1981-1991 album is discussed in length …a very valuable book.” Chris Yates, The Jazz Rag

“This book is a model of how these types of books should be…If late period Miles is in the readers’ interest, the reader should rush out and purchase this volume. It is invaluable.” Robert Iannapollo, ARSC Journal

The Last Miles was voted one of the top ten music books of 2005 by Record Collector magazine.

The Last Miles was joint winner of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections’ Best Jazz History Book 2006 award.


the last miles:
the music of Miles Davis1980 to 1991 a book by George Cole
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