Matt Waldman’s RSP: Reads (July 20, 2018)

Matt Waldman’s Reads Listens Views is back in a slightly new form. This post is devoted to recommended reads of the week. 


If you’re new to the Rookie Scouting Portfolio blog, welcome.  For years, I used to post links to pieces that I’ve found personally compelling or to content I hope will eventually scratch that itch when I get around to reading it.

After a two-year break, Reads Listens Views returns. You may not like everything listed here, but you’re bound to like something.

Miles The Autobiography by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe

One of my favorite biographies because Miles Davis changed the face of popular music several times during his lifetime in ways that those who’ve never listened to his music are even aware. A complicated and flawed individual — few of us aren’t — I’ve heard legendary musicians praise him in one breath and share their personal dislike for him in another.

And there’s no doubt that his behavior and the behavior of others towards him that he in no way deserved would have been tabloid and social media fodder today. This book gives the reader one of the best perspectives about the man that you can hope for.

I saw Miles Davis in nearly 30 years ago in Atlanta at Piedmont Park with two high school friends — a Robert Henson, a bassist who’s a successful professional around town and Anne Marie Parsons, a piano player who introduced me to the joys of jazz with a cassette of Art Blakey Live at Birdland and Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. Unfortunately, Anne-Marie drowned two years later while she was conducting ground-breaking research of a virgin forest outside Mastatal, Costa Rica.

It would have been fun to discuss this book together, but death is a central part of life. Get this book and delve into the mind of a great performer, learn about music and society from the point of view of a ground-breaking black celebrity, and enjoy a story shaped expertly by Troupe, who is an excellent poet, writer, and journalist. I saw Troupe perform his poetry at the University of Georgia a few years after this book was published — and it deserves an entry in a future Friday post in its own right.

Invisible Ink: A practical guide to building stories that resonate by Brian McDonald

Cecil Lammey gave me this book five years ago and the subtitle of the book is right-on because it’s one of the most practical guides on the subject that I’ve read. McDonald incorporates several modern-day television and screen examples to support his lessons, which makes his instruction entertaining and easy to absorb. One of my favorite lines is, “As a storyteller, your job is to get out of the way of the story. This isn’t about you, It may be about what you have to say, but it isn’t about you. Let go of your ego.”

You can learn more about McDonald here.

David Liebman: Self-Portrait of a Jazz-Artist by David Liebman

This was suggested reading in my undergraduate saxophone program. It might have even been required, but I don’t remember the specifics because if our professors suggested something, most of us were eager to get our hands, eyes, or ears on it.

Liebman isn’t a well-known jazz artist to the casual fan of the music, but he has been a long-time heavy since the 1970s. He has performed with Elvin Jones, Miles Davis, and Michael Brecker, and he’s taught many excellent musicians my age and younger who are on the forefront of the scene today.

Liebman’s book covers the artistic process and finds connections to multiple disciplines to make his insights universal in nature. As with any book, the author’s perspective is one that can be equally insightful and problematic depending on the subject matter.

If you’re a critical reader who can balance the differences without one ruining the other, you’ll find Liebman’s and Davis’ books enjoyable.

How does any of this relate to football? If you read my writing and appreciate my analysis, these books are among many that have been influential. Developing skill in an area often requires bringing outside influences into that area.


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