New book on MILES DAVIS

University Of Chicago Press cover photo: Veryl Oakland

John Mars was extensively interviewed and, quoted by Bob Gluck in his most recent book, The Miles Davis Lost Quintet And Other Revolutionary Ensembles. Since it was published, Bob has become a full Professor Of Music at the State University Of New York at Albany. Congrats to Bob !!

Miles Davis’ early “electric” bands and, the offshoot groups that were formed by the alumni of Miles’ band including CIRCLE , are the subject of Bob Gluck’s latest tome. Two of John’s historical photographs of CIRCLE members Anthony Braxton and, Barry Altschul are included, in the book, which was published by The University Of Chicago Press. John’s musical descriptions and, anecdotes regarding these heroes of his whom he met when he was quite young, were happily related to Bob and, are also prominent in the book and, it’s extensive ‘notes’ section.

The recent Sony Records release on Miles Davis entitled; Live In Europe (The Bootleg Series Volume 2) is the companion piece to Bob Gluck’s book and, according to John: “It’s very difficult to describe such recondite music in words, but, Bob somehow managed to get that done. Bob is a composer/musician with his own, original sense of adventure and so, it’s not just an academic book. It’s a scholarly description, but, somehow, still very a accessible description of the music, if you are a novice. Get this newly issued album of Miles’ music and, get Bob’s book ! You will be handsomely rewarded and, gain an understanding of what is to me, still incredibly fresh music. When historic music is brilliant, it remains eternally fresh ! ”.

Sony Legacy Recordings cover design: Josh Cheuse

The complete interview with John Mars can be read by clicking here.

Fans of Anthony Braxton will also want to get a copy of Time And Anthony Braxton by John’s friend and, musical colleague, Stuart Broomer, which was published by The Mercury Press in 2009.

submitted by Krista Stahl April 2017

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Critical response to The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles
Bob Gluck (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz, April 5, 2016: “Gluck’s own expertise as a composer and musician work hand-in-hand with his natural inquisitiveness to uncover the inner creative method in a band that was literally reinventing their music on a gig-by-gig basis. In the process, Gluck perhaps reveals more about Davis’s techniques than previously understood. . . . In his examination of lesser-known groups like the Revolutionary Ensemble, Gluck illustrates both the Davis influence and the tenacious individualism of artists from the trumpeter’s sphere who were determined to follow their own best instincts. Though Gluck is an academician, his writing is accessible even at its most detailed. His insights are solidly supported by historical fact, quotes, and his firm grasp of the subject. As a result, The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles plays out as a compelling narrative of artistic ambitions and human nature.”

Joseph Dalton, Times Union (Albany), Sunday May April 17, 2016): “Gluck has combined his passion and expertise to write “The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles.” The new book from the University of Chicago Press examines a particularly vital slice of Davis’ career in the early ’70s and places it in the larger context of musical and societal change… The group ventured into even more daring kinds of music: “revolutionary,” as the book title says. Only recently have live recordings of the quintet been released. But Gluck goes further, applying the determination and skill of a detective to uncover and understand what they were up to. He’s looked at what else the players who doing at the time, where they lived and hung out, and who else they were making music with… familiar names like Chick Corea, John Coltrane and Keith Jarrett, and he introduces equally important figures like Leroy Jenkins, Anthony Braxton and Cecil Taylor… By staying active as a musician, Gluck hopes his writing can steer clear of too much jargon and analysis… “I’m interested in what happens when you put together a group of people and give them a lot of freedom.”

Andy Hamilton, The Wire 387, May 2016: “[Gluck] sees Davis as being in conversation with the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, while creating a music – jazz rock – with much broader commercial appeal. The “musical economy” is what separates The Lost Quintet from groups on the commercial margins like Circle and The Revolutionary Ensemble – to which Gluck devotes separate chapters… His thesis is intriguing, and the book provides much of the material for addressing it… he does show how The Lost Quintet was an important band in its own right, not just a transition to better known ensembles. The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles raises tantalizing questions about a career that continues to fascinate.”

Allmusic Books: “The scholarship here is excellent. Documenting musical changes is difficult, and Gluck has to rely on a great deal of bootlegged material and also does a forensic recreation of some of Davis’s ‘Live’ albums—that were actually heavily produced—to understand what he and his quintet were working at. Gluck has scoured interviews—and done his own—to get a sense of the biographical and social issues at play. But unlike many other—most other—all other?—cultural criticism being put out today, he never reduces the art—the music-—to psychology and sociology. He understands the aesthetics, the music, as a thing unto itself, and tries hard to explain it. . . . Davis’s position as a famous bandleader allowed his musicians to experiment while still getting gigs, still producing albums. Circle and the Revolutionary Ensemble were in very different situations. . . . Gluck’s research and insight really pays off. . . . The research he did was small-scale and exacting, sketching networks of influence and explaining the development of a musical form that is too easily dismissed. And he left me wanting more.”

Stanley Cowell, pianist and composer: “Replete with anecdotes, published quotes, reviews, plus documentation, this is a very readable, honest, informed—even scholarly—effort by Gluck in chronicling the influences, motives, and participants circa 1960 through early ’75 of Miles Davis and ‘. . . Other Revolutionary Bands.’ This will be an important contribution to music literature and study.”

Michael Cuscuna, cofounder of Mosaic Records: “Gluck’s The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles goes the distance to dispel the simplistic notion that the ’70s was the decade of fusion and funk. Focusing on three ensembles whose innovations and influence exceeded their popularity is a brilliant move. While I could quibble with a few conclusions, Gluck expertly analyzes the music without ignoring the all-important political, cultural, social, and economic contexts in which the music was created—making this book invaluable.”

George E. Lewis, composer, trombonist, and author of A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music: “This book presents a radical challenge to accepted portrayals of the networks that animated experimental music-making in the crucial decade of the 1970s. Moving beyond stereotypes of genre, Gluck lays out a compelling, cosmopolitan, yet intimate vision of the relationships among a set of highly innovative musicians who shaped the future of music itself.”

Victor Svorinich, author of Listen to This: Miles Davis and Bitches Brew: “Gluck’s new work is written with much heart, warmth, and intelligence. I hope this starts a new wave of academic books that focus on good narrative, new concepts, and sophistication without having to fall into the academic jargon charade. Gluck explores cultural, sociological, and philosophical elements of some of the late sixties’ and early seventies’ most cutting edge groups, but in a way that is most essential: from a musical perspective. I am flattered to see a mention of my Listen to This: Miles Davis and Bitches Brew in the text, for I feel this new volume is a perfect complement, exploring many of Davis’s outlooks and sociological surroundings with a fresh and well developed perspective. I must admit, I know very little of some of the more avant-garde bands Gluck writes passionately about, but I enjoyed learning about them, and the whole New York loft scene of the seventies. Some of Gluck’s conclusions are new takes on matters, especially with the relationship with the avant-garde and Davis, which offer much to ponder and debate.”