The new book is welcomed by its future publisher
There are bittersweet moments in our lives. The sad news is that my father passed away. Only days prior, the editorial board at the University of Chicago Press voted to move ahead on my second book, tentatively titled “A Different Kind of Brew: Miles, Chick, Braxton, and Jenkins.” Its alternate title (no doubt just one of several to come) is “Revolutionary Ensembles,” a take off on the idea that the Miles Davis “Lost” Quintet is indeed a “revolutionary” ensemble. The book pursues the rarely noted kinship not only with Miles’s later, more funk-oriented bands, but also with contemporaneous groups, Circle (in a sense a spin-off) and “the” Revolutionary Ensemble. “Braxton” refers to Circle’s Anthony Braxton, and “Jenkins” Revolutionary Ensemble’s Leroy Jenkins.
I gave my first talk about the book topic two weeks ago. A second talk had to unfortunately be postponed due to my dad’s illness, but I had the wonderful experience of delivering it to him in his hospital room, a few days before I had any idea of the severity of what was unfolding. My niece Shira–who has been one of my editors–was present, which was very special.
I am now preparing to revisit the overall manuscript. It will then go out to a series of readers for comment, and subsequently into the next draft. This is now draft five. The tentative release date is Fall 2015.
One of the most interesting aspects of this project is its trajectory as a book. I presented an earlier draft version to my editor at the University of Chicago Press, but it failed to ignite sufficient interest. It was a “New York” book, an attempt to explore the early days of the downtown loft scene (the beginnings of Studio Rivbea and other venues), and look at a handful of bands, including the Revolutionary Ensemble. It also considered an additional New York scene in Chelsea, the neighborhood where founding members of Circle were living. The Miles Davis “Lost” band story was a subplot regarding the origins of Circle.
My editor made the suggestion that my book topic was really Miles’s “Lost” Quintet. I experimented with expanding that section. And it grew and grew and grew. And here we are, with the “Lost” at its center. A handful of chapters that were no longer relevant were spun off into other writing projects. One of them, about electronic music composer (then living in downtown NYC), Mort Subotnick, was recently published in New Music Box.
I look forward to writing more along the way!
One of the many wonderful condolence notes that I’ve received during the past week was one from Herbie Hancock. I think that he captured the essence of how the new book will be dedicated when he wrote: “I’m sure that he left this world with great pride in what you have accomplished.” I have great confidence that he indeed did and I look forward with both sadness and joy to writing the preface.