Names in Miles: The people mentioned in the Miles Davis autobiography

Anyone who’s read the Miles Davis autobiography knows its a gossipy take on the 20th century jazz scene. Miles freely gives his opinions on people and players, usually speaking critically of musicians he wasn’t playing with. As someone new to jazz, I found myself learning about new musicians on almost every page, my reading copy became a collection of bookmarks that I planned to revisit. I set out to determine which musicians Miles spoke about the most and if he had a positive or negative view of them.

To do this I put the autobiography text through the Google Natural Language (GNL) API and extracted the entities Miles mentions in the book as well as if the entity is discussed positively or negatively (sentiment). After a bit of clean-up and standardizing names (for instance, he referred to Charlie Parker in a few different ways) I determined the 37 most mentioned people in the Miles Davis Autobiography.


  • Bird – No surprise, Charlie Parker was an idol to Miles during his early career and a focal point of the autobiography during Miles’ initial time in New York. 
  • Miles is not shy with his adoration of non-jazz musicians like Prince and Hendrix, possibly because he doesn’t view them as competition as he might with other jazz musicians


Additionally here’s a playlist I found that compiles music discussed in the autobiography:

As well as my own playlist focusing on Miles “Electric” period and songs inspired by it:

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