This profile of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis begins with musical history and critique, then describes ‘Miles in the flesh’: his extreme egotism and disdain for the British, yet talent at the very British art of one-upmanship.
Telling quotations suggest the musician was a puritan potentate. The second half is a standard potted biography, lit by Tynan’s brilliant turns of phrase. The end contains a cutting description of Davis, in his New York apartment, declaiming on music while telephoning his stockbroker. A recurring comparison between jazz and bull-fighting is linked to Davis’ love of Spanish music and the untranslatable term ‘duende’.
Related recommendation: Truman Capote’s ‘The Duke in his Domain’ (1957)
Themes: Artistic Method, Vocation and Celebrity
Genres: Profile or character, Critical