We begin this look back to old newspaper and magazine articles with Ben Ratliff’s 2001 commentary about Miles Davis and the notion of ‘changing music.’
Miles Davis: Restless Grooves
I’VE changed music five or six times,” Miles Davis wrote in ”Miles: The Autobiography” (1989), a book that offers a great modern example of the untrustworthy narrator. All the huffing and bluffing and posturing one ever suspected to be within him was collected in that volume; much of it was graceless and thickly applied, an older man’s attempt to reassert his place in history when he may have been losing it. His new music wasn’t what it used to be, and his discography was a shambles.
If Davis, who died in 1991, did indeed believe that his importance was slipping, if he had anxiety about the future after he was gone, that only diversified the portfolio of psychological imperatives he regularly offered his audience. As much as the serious listener might hate to hear yet more about his image (all that old ”Prince of Darkness” stuff), it is undeniable that his music draws some of its richness from extramusical gamesmanship: its cunning, guile, perversity and honesty….