A valuable revisionist look at one of the key figures of modern American music.




Scottish music critic Tingen examines the controversial second half of Miles Davis's career, when he performed with electric bands.

One of the household names of jazz, Davis virtually invented the vocabulary of modern trumpet playing. But in the mid-1960s, on the album Bitches Brew, he added electric guitars and keyboards to his band and lost many of his original fans, who accused him of pandering to the rock-’n’-roll crowd. Tingen, whose background is in rock criticism, argues that Davis's later music, far from being a sell-out, arose from a serious attempt to incorporate the idioms of contemporary African-American music into the trumpeter's vocabulary. In support of this, he interviews many members of Davis's bands during that era. Their testimony sheds interesting light on Davis's approach. As a leader, he tended to assemble a group in whose abilities he felt confident, then throw them on their own resources by taking them into the recording studio with no advance notice of the material to be performed. The author makes a convincing case that Davis's openness to a variety of musical idioms harks back to his early days in blues-oriented bands and as a sideman to Charlie Parker. Tingen also provides a comprehensive list of Davis's supporting musicians and of his concert and recording activity during the latter half of his career, as well as insights into the trumpeter's troubled private life. The comments on specific performances tend toward the impressionistic. While unlikely to convince hard-core jazz fans that Davis's electric experiments deserve close listening, Tingen does make a good case for the continuity of the trumpeter's vision and for the importance and influence of the music he played in the ’60s and after.

A valuable revisionist look at one of the key figures of modern American music.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8230-8346-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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