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
Read reviews and praise for The Last Miles


Order your copy online
from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
home | intro | albums | dvds | singles | other audio | books | gigs | cd | interviews | profiles | memorabilia | photos | art | links | about

My third set of book reviews that cover Miles's 1980's period. You can also read
Part 1 of my Miles Book Reviews
Part 2 of my Miles Book Reviews
Part 4 of my Miles Book Reviews


Round About Midnight:Miles Davis - Eric Nisenson

Eric Nisenson: Round About Midnight - A Portrait of Miles Davis
(Updated Edition) (1996)

The late Eric Nisenson got to hang out Miles during the late 1970s, when Miles had dropped out of the music scene and rarely left his New York home. Nisenson hoped to collaborate with Miles on a biography, but seems to have spent much of time running errands for Miles, including scoring drugs. This period of Miles’s life is documented in the book, but there is much more. Nisenson covers Miles’s entire career, from the early days of Bebop until Miles’s dying days and hip-hop. A chapter explores Miles’s 1980s period and while I disagree with Nisenson’s assessment (“Miles decided to cash in on his legend”), he certainly provides plenty of food for thought.

Verdict: A good overview of Miles’s musical career, and a unique insight into a dark period of Miles’s life.

Availability: In print and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US


Running The Voodoo Down: Miles Davis - Philip Freeman

Philip Freeman: Running the Voodoo Down - The Electric Music of Miles Davis (2005)

Freeman is a thirty-something music writer, who writes about jazz and rock, and so it’s no surprise that he’s a fan of Miles’s electric period. Freeman writes with much enthusiasm about this period (including the 1980s) and provides a fresh perspective of Miles’s electric music. However, unlike Paul Tingen’s Miles Beyond, which contains interviews with dozens of musicians associated with Miles’s electric period, Freeman relies on secondary sources.

Verdict: If you’re interested in Miles’s electric period, it’s worth reading, but if you want the definitive book on Miles’s entire electric period, Tingen’s book is the one to go for.

Availability: In print and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

Miles Davis - Brian Morton

Brian Morton: Miles Davis (2005)

Morton is a highly respected British music writer and co-author of the Penguin Guide to Jazz. Morton has set himself the difficult task of providing an overview of Miles’s life and music in a small, slim book (it has just 170 pages), which he ably achieves. If you are new to Miles, then this book is a good place to start. And even if you already know about Miles, there’s enough depth to make it a worthwhile read. The book is concise and written with the general reader in mind,. There’s also a useful chronology, which charts Miles’s life, along with key historical and cultural events.

Verdict: An excellent introduction to the life and music of Miles Davis.

Availability: In print and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

Bill Kirchner (editor): A Miles Davis Reader (1997)

This book is a collection of interviews, reviews, liner notes and essays on the music of Miles, from his early be-bop days to the 1980s. Fans of Miles’s 1980s music will find several chapters especially interesting including, Bob Blumenthal’s review of several of Miles’s comeback gigs at Kix club in Boston in June 1981; Gary Giddins’ writes about The Man With The Horn album, while Max Harrison reviews several London concerts from the 1980s.


Verdict: A really useful compilation of Miles-related material from all eras.


Availability: Not in print but you should be able to pick up a new or used copy from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

Miles Davis Companion - Gary Carner

Gary Carner (editor): The Miles Davis Companion (1996)

Another compilation of Miles-related profiles, interviews, liner notes and reviews. Carner has gathered together a virtual who’s who of jazz writing and the contributors include, Ralph J Gleason, Nat Hentoff, Leonard Feather, Gary Giddins, Dan Morgenstern, Greg Tate and Ben Sidran. The book covers Miles’s entire career and includes Stanley Crouch’s notorious attack on Miles, Play The Right Thing, as well as Eric Nisenson’s memories of Miles during his dark period in the late 70s. Frances Davis discusses Miles’s 1980s music and looks at Aura and Amandla.

Verdict: A superb compilation and well worth getting, whatever period of Miles you are interested in.


Availability: Not in print but you should be able to pick up a new or used copy from Amazon UK and Amazon US


 

 




The Last Miles US edition
Buy from Amazon.com
The Last Miles UK edition
Buy from Amazon UK

‘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, Milesís 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, Ejazz.fm

"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 Jazz.com

"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, Jazzviews.co.uk

"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, Blogcritics.org

“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 Radio.com

"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 Jazz.com 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
buy online from
click to buy at Amazon.co.uk

and in the USA from
Click to buy at Amazon.com

Contact George Cole at
  

the last miles mailing liststay informed of newadditions to this site:




home | intro | albums | dvds | singles | other audio | gigs | cd | interviews | profiles | memorabilia | photos | art | links | about