I once had a student in my jazz history course write a book report on "Miles: The Autobiography". They hilariously noted that "his favorite word appears to be motherf*****". So I decided to mark a tally on the inside page each time that word (or it's plural) was used while I read the book. The final count? 370 times in the 402-page account of his life. That's an impressive 0.92 motherf***** per page.
I can just hear Miles now "Man, this jive-ass motherf***** reads my entire life story and the only thing he can say about it is how many times I said "motherf*****"? Ain't that a bitch". Yes it is. But I do have a few more words.
Miles' recounting of his life - including his upbringing, move to New York, life in the studio and on the road with jazz legends, and a candid look into his substance abuse and severe personal issues - is a riveting read that can be appreciated by musicians and non-musicians alike. I particularly loved the earlier chapters. Being a jazz musician and reading Miles' account of 1940's-50s New York is a little bit like being a comic book nerd and reading a novel in which all your favorite super heros hang out together in one place.
Yet Miles has a no-BS way of humanizing the giants (including himself). It struck me that the scenes Miles Davis was a part of were in some ways as ordinary as a scene anywhere - people make calls, bandleaders assemble groups, clubs get filled, people (hopefully) get paid, and so on. There's something fascinating to me about the ordinary-ness of it all and it made me realize that any local scene is in some small way connected to this great lineage.
Without a doubt, all you motherf***** out there should read this book.
(Happy birthday, Miles).