Miles Davis, Miles Smiles and the Invention of Post-Bop

The fact that the author of the monograph, Jeremy Yudkin,
is a musicologist whose previous publications have been exclusively in the
area of medieval music and the Western classical tradition [the exception
being a 2006 monograph on the Lenox School of Jazz] speaks to the immense
changes in musicology over the last thirty years. When this music was made,
and for a considerable time thereafter, it was entirely unwelcome in the

Yudkinís brief book (123 pages of text) is divided between 70 pages of
prologue, and 50 pages of close analysis of the six compositions included on
Miles Smiles, the second release by the classic quintet including Wayne
Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. The book canít quite
seem to find a consistent tone, nor decide who its reader should be. The
material in the prologue is too thin and commonplace for the reader who is
already familiar with Davis and his work, and in contrast the close reading
of Miles Smiles may be difficult to digest, even for those who know the album
well. I am not convinced that the analysis adds new levels of understanding
for the committed listener. Yudkin provides extensive transcription of the
solos, and does provide some discussion of how this music differs from the
other post-bop of the sixties, but even more discussion of the musical and
especially the social context of this music would not have been amiss. For
example, much is made of the originality of Tony Williamsí contributions at
the drums, but it would be enlightening to know how much he owed to his study
with master teacher Alan Dawson and the musical scene in Boston.

All in all, this project was worthy, but the execution seems to indicate
that a few more years of gestation might not have been amiss.

Tom Moore

image_description=Jeremy Yudkin: Miles Davis, Miles Smiles and the Invention of Post-Bop
product_title=Jeremy Yudkin: Miles Davis, Miles Smiles and the Invention of Post-Bop
product_by=Indiana University Press, 2008
product_id=ISBN: 978-0-253-21952-7