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Review of Miles on Miles

Miles on Miles: Interviews and Encounters with Miles Davis
by Paul Maher Jr., Michael K. Dorr
Chicago Review Press

November 2008, 352 pages, $24.95

Review by Michael Patrick Brady


He also loves making other people uncomfortable. When dining with John Palcewski of Cavalier magazine at a restaurant in Boston in 1969, Davis terrorizes the staff, putting on a show for the writer. “This place looks like a whorehouse,” he announces, before needling the waiter about the quality of his soup. “It tastes like you look.” This aversion to comfort and desire for tension can be clearly seen in the evolution of his work from his landmark ‘Birth of the Cool’ recordings to his controversial fusion work in the latter stages of his career. Davis never wanted to stop moving, always wanted to be doing something, pissing somebody off, and driving people wild.

* * *

Miles on Miles is an examination of Davis’s lifelong campaign to define himself publicly and obscure himself privately, erecting a grand façade of a terrifying, egotistical, artistic giant to shield the quieter, more approachable man within. It’s a strategy that seems to have backfired; the character Miles created around himself is brutally compelling, and watching him spar with this diverse set of insightful and thoughtful writers is a delight. At the collection’s close, Miles’ enigma remains firmly intact, and thankfully so. A little mystery always keeps things interesting.

See entire review here.

Order here.

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Hm. Well, nice that your piece was one of a handful that got spotlighted by the critic... but a 7? Not exactly a rave there, and I didn't see in the review where he knocked those 3 points off. I didn't get a sense of what he didn't like about the book to push it down quite that far. The text suggests 8, but the number is 7.


Numerical rankings are an unfortunate obligation of contemporary reviewing, particularly on the web. From my perspective, a 7 is a rave, while 8 is exceptional. 9 and 10 are reserved for epoch-shaking works and not doled out casually. Entirely subjective. Anyway, more thought is put into the text than the ranking, and more of the reader's consideration should be given to the text, as such.

John, glad you liked the review. I enjoyed your contribution very much.

Michael Patrick Brady

Michael, many thanks for your comments. I see you're up in Boston so you may appreciate a pic I put up a while back. It was me wearing a Yankees cap, beside an Obama campaign tech geek wearing a Sox cap. His laptop was an Apple, mine a PC. Proof that Obama is a uniter, not a divider...

Thanks to John

for allowing this book to happen with his contribution . . . and I appreciate that people seem to like it, it was truly a labor of love for me.

Best wishes, and Happy New Year!

Paul Maher Jr.
Lancaster, MA.

Paul, I'm honored to be among the other writers in this tribute to Miles. Speaking of which, have you read about Nat Hentoff being laid off from The Village Voice?


Here's a good quote from the article:

Mr. Hentoff said he learned the news in a phone call with Mr. Ortega on Tuesday morning. “I’m 83 and a half. You’d think they’d have let me go silently,” he said. “Fortunately, I’ve never been more productive.”

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