cover image Miles and Me

Miles and Me

Quincy Troupe. University of California Press, $25 (200pp) ISBN 978-0-520-21624-2

Growing up in St. Louis, Mo., in the 1950s, Troupe idolized jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, seeing him as an alternative to his own white-dominated neighborhood and high school. Miles, as a successful black man embodying all that was hip and proud, was a favorite role model for Troupe and his friends. Thirty years later, Troupe met his hero, and eventually collaborated with him on Miles: The Autobiography. Now he's documented his relationships with man and music in this slim, conversational volume. In casual, sentimental language ridden with gossipy details about Miles's Italian designer clothes, Troupe notes every interaction between Miles and himself that preceded their collaboration and relates favorite vignettes from that project. But what's notable about these anecdotes is how banal they are, from a story about an incompetent roadie, whom Miles predicted would drop everything because he ""walked out of tempo,"" to Troupe's reflections on Miles's habit of hurling harsh insults at strangers who approached him. Although Miles's fans may be happy to read sketches from his life, this book works more as a commentary on the phenomenon of devoted fandom than as another biography of the trumpeter. The book's third section, in which Troupe (now a professor of literature at UC-San Diego) writes about how Miles affected his own coming-of-age, is by far the most compelling, because it deals with the emotional effects music can have upon its listeners--which is, after all, both the cause and the most lyrical side of fandom. 16 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)