Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis
by Gregory Davis and Les Sussman

Backbeat Books ( www.backbeatbooks.com )

"I have neither glorified nor demeaned him here. I've tried to honestly show both his best side and his darkest side."(Gregory Davis)

Gregory Davis, the first-born son of Miles Davis, has just published a book about his renowned father.

Thankfully, this is not a simple tell-it-all book composed out of vengeful diary jottings. Not at all.

In 176 readable pages, a dutiful, thoughtful son attempts to set the record straight on who? what? how? and why? Miles Davis was Miles Davis.

"As his son, I lived with Miles longer than any other family member. I laughed and cried with and for him, nursed and cared for him when no one else would or could, and was with my father during many of his finest moments as well as many of his most notorious escapades."

While Gregory also writes engagingly about such matters as jazz and jazz musicians, the young women in Miles' later life and, of course, the relationship between Miles and Irene Davis, Gregory's mother, it's the long-standing friendship between Miles and Clark Terry that consistently shines as a positive light throughout this deceptively simple book. Trumpeter Clark Terry happens to be godfather to Gregory, and the author of this book's Foreword.

But Dark Magus takes a dramatically darker turn when Gregory discovers, only days after Miles' death in 1991, that he's been left out of the will.

Gregory and the reader are left to puzzle out some possible reasons for this.

Was it his father's changeable Jekyll-and-Hyde personality that caused him to rashly sign off on the will?

And why would Miles have left Gregory out of the will if he kept saying to a close friend of his Uncle Vernon, "Tell Gregory that I tried to wait on him."

To this date, Gregory has not received a cent from the $13 million dollar estate of Miles Davis; and, most tellingly, the Davis family remains a divided family.

This makes Dark Magus an unsettling and psychologically complex reading experience about a son's aching desire to understand his incredibly gifted and fabulously flawed father.

Reviewed by David Fujino December 2006

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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