Miles Davis is one of those musicians that seemed to be shrouded in mystique. A type of mystique that found itself rooted in in his signature sound, straight tone without a lot of filler. A sound that mirrored his personality, which was engulfed most times in some very colorful language to put it mildly.
My hometown of St. Louis claims Davis as one of our own, but he is actually from East St. Louis, Illinois. So, it suffices to say, my Miles Davis knowledge was quite vast. Here’s what I didn’t know. His musical career was most focused and creative while in Paris. Like most artists of color of that time, the French had a greater appreciation for us than our own country. He literally scored a film playing to the images on the screen without writing down one note. He loved hard and it was his love and lost of one particular woman that drove his to alcohol and narcotics use to a whole new level. A path that would ultimately become his undoing.
Thanks to Stanley Nelson, a whole new generation will now be schooled not his musical genius and the prowess that drive him to become one of the greatest musicians of all time. Nelson uses flashes of images of the era to give the audience a sense of where the world was at the time. Carl Lumbly eerily recreates Davis’ voice in the voice over used over the narrative portions of the doc making the audience feel as though Miles is sitting right next to them at a party spinning off the chapters of his life and career.
His albums Kind of Cool and Bitches Brew are iconic staples of his legacy. Nelson enlists colleagues and legends that either worked with or admired the genius like Quincy Jones, Clive Davis (reignited his career), Betty Mabry, Ron Carter, James Mtume, Greg Tate, Carlos Santana, Quincy Trope and Stanley Crouch to name a few.
Miles Davis – The Birth of Cool is a must see for anyone, anywhere in any lane of life that has an infinite love of music. Especially jazz. Produced by American Masters or PBS, this invigorating doc drops on August 23rd.