If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.
You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...
Miles Ahead, in which the Academy Award winning actor portrays the legendary trumpeter, marks the directorial debut of Don Cheadle, who co-wrote the script.
The independently financed production was shot in Cincinnati. Co-starring with Don Cheadle are Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and Emayatzy Corinealdi. The production capped a nine year journey to the big screen that started with Davis' posthumous induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Rather than encapsulating the entirety of Miles Davis' life, Miles Ahead (previously known as Kill The Trumpet Player) will focus on the five-year span where Davis stopped making musicknown as his "silent period"and his troubled marriage to Frances Taylor Davis. All of this eventually led up to the creation of Davis' 1969 jazz-rock album In a Silent Way which is regarded by music writers as Davis' first fusion recording.
The picture is among a number of recent film endeavors centering on iconic black musiciansall of them revolutionary figures who were considered ahead of their time. One of the most interesting is the Quincy Jones produced Keep On Keepin' On (the Clark Terry story); and, the most successful film thus far, Straight Outta Compton (a biopic about Dr. Dre and the iconic group N.W.A.) connecting best with a wide audience thus far.
During the past 10 years there have been at least five Miles Davis projects in development that included: the George Tillman project (tentatively called Miles); and, the Quincy Troupe project called Miles and Me, that I was presented in October 2011 for project finance purposes. Sadly, because of adverse logistics, it was one of the projects that got away... Miles Davis is an amazing story.
The Quincy Troupe project (which was supported by the French distributor Wild Bunch) was a candid account of Troupe's friendship with Miles Davis that revealed a portrait of a great musician and an intimate study of a unique relationship. As Davis' collaborator on Miles: The Autobiography, Troupe had exceptional access to Miles.
The script went beyond the life portrayed in the autobiography to describe in detail the process of Davis' spectacular creativity and the joys and difficulties his passionate, contradictory temperament posed to their friendship. It showed how Miles Davis, both as a black man and an artist, influenced not only Quincy Troupe but whole generations.
Troupe wrote that Miles Davis was "irascible, contemptuous, brutally honest, ill-tempered when things didn't go his way, complex, fair-minded, humble, kind and a son-of-a-bitch." That script captured and conveyed the power of the musician's presence, the mesmerizing force of his personality, and the restless energy that lay at the root of his creativity. I look forward to the October release of Miles Ahead. And there will no doubt be legions of naysayers who will object to the way the Davis story is told, given the kind of passionate following such artists cultivate.
Miles Davis is a jazz giant, perhaps one of the most important musicians and cultural figures of the 20th Century. I would compare his to Mozart and Beethoven of the classical and romantic eras. Consequently, reducing someone's life like Miles' into a two-hour film, is a huge challenge.
Don Cheadle, who earned an Oscar nod for his portrayal of a noble hero in Hotel Rwanda, arouses and torments in House of Lies, and kicked some serious bad guy ass in Iron Man 3, has now played one of the coolest American musicians ever in Miles Ahead.
Note: Cheadle was approached to give a direct interview for this article; however, regrettably his production schedule and the movie's 10 October release date precluded an interview before the movie's release. However, we were able to source other online quotes from Don about the production of Miles Ahead to supplement and inform this article.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Cheadle pitched Miles Ahead like this: "It's not a biopic, per se. It's a gangster pic. It's a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in. Without throwing history away, we're trying to shuffle it and make it more cubist. The bulk of it takes place in '79, in a period where he actually wasn't playing. But we traverse a lot of his life, but it's not a cradle to grave story."
For those who do not know, Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926-September 28, 1991) was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, together with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.
In 2006, Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which recognized him as "one of the key figures in the history of jazz."
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!