The Comfort of Miles


Right now, I’m reading Kind of Blue by Ashley Kahn. It’s about the making of the Miles Davis album of the same name, but, in the first chapter at least, it’s about the making of Miles Davis as a fully formed artist and leader of other musicians.

I’m reading the book for class, and didn’t go into it thinking it would have any take home lessons about my own life. And yet, some Davis factoids have resonated with me.

1) Kahn quotes pianist Bill Evans who called Miles “a late arriver” and said, “There are always a lot of early-arrivers who have great facility. Miles had to go through a longer laborious, digging, analytical process, finally arriving at something which is far more precious.”

2) He writes that “Mile’s constantly questioned his ability. ‘It was so bad I thought, I’ll go study dentistry,” he recalled.”

3) He notes how even later in his career, Miles wasn’t the best technical player, so he simplified things, found their essence. “Fellow trumpeter Art Famer commented on Davis: ‘When you’re not technically a virtuoso, you have to say something. You have no place to hide.”

Basically, what is comforting for me to remember, is that some artists struggle. And the fact that you struggle doesn’t make you not an artist.

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