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June 06, 2007

Dark Magus: The Mad Genius of Miles Davis

Miles While on vacation a few weeks ago, I read the book "Dark Magus - The Jekyl and Hyde Life of Miles Davis" by Miles' son Gregory Davis. I've been a fan of Miles Davis since I was a kid and first heard the masterful album Kind of Blue. Miles is an icon - and I thought it would be interesting to read his own son's account of Miles' life.

Gregory Davis offers an interesting perspective. I find it fascinating that he became a psychotherapist, especially in light of the chaos of his family system. Davis has clearly worked through his past - and he relates very painful stories and experiences with objective candor and deference.

Davis summed up his father when he begins "Miles was no saint". He was, however, a gifted musician and a passionate artist. It's interesting that so many gifted artists teeter on the brink of mental and behavioral chaos. It seems that there is a spiritual restlessness that often accompanies artistic genius. Does it have to? I don't believe so. But, it clearly happens in some cases - nonetheless. I found myself saddened - that a man who brought such beauty into the world and into my own life experience should suffer so much with his own demons. Peace seemed to escape Miles - even on his death bed.

The only thing I didn't particularly like about the book was the writing style, which I found a bit hard to follow. The chapters seem to be a stream of consciousness meandering of stories strung together in loose themes. A bit of a crazy maker for those who like point A to point B prose. Nevertheless, for those interested in Miles and in Jazz - this is essential reading.


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