Celebrating the incomparable jazz legend Miles Davis, Berman and Brown focus on the people, sounds, and experiences that shaped his unique ear, laying the foundation for a nearly half-century hallmark career.
It can prove quite difficult to share the life story of Miles Davis for younger audiences. Looking beyond the pace-setting, genre-redefining musical legacy, a whole host of complications appear. Here Berman trains her lens on a young Miles: navigating Jim Crow–era segregation in high school, breaking out to finding his place in a bustling New York jazz scene, and navigating early-career anxieties, strife, and “dark days” before taking center stage again at 29 as the audience “goes wild…electrified and satisfied.” In this rendering that accents change just as much as genius, readers are left with lessons of perseverance, critical listening, and the importance of embracing their own uniqueness. Brown goes to work on the illustrations, accompanying the free-verse text with inspired ink-and-watercolor paintings that use color and perspective to evoke Miles’ sound. An amazing touch throughout is the inclusion of timeless quotes from Miles himself in a display type that appropriately acknowledges the gravelly, gruff voice that made those sparingly delivered words pop that much more. Neither the primary text nor the author’s note addresses Davis’ serial abuse, so this is just an introduction.
A stirring, soulful, well-researched look at the groundwork that informed Miles’ signature sound, offering an entry point to a towering, complicated figure who reshaped 20th-century music again and again. (illustrator’s note, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)