The Miles Davis Radio Project is a Peabody Award-winning series of eight, one-hour programs about the life and music of Miles Davis.
Produced by Steve Rowland and narrated by Danny Glover, the program features interviews with Quincy Jones, Roberta Flack, Joni Mitchell, Carlos Santana, Philip Glass, Dizzy Gillespie and others.
Miles’ music is featured prominently between the narration and excellent interviews. We also have the pleasure of hearing Miles discuss his life and music throughout the program, which is a great thrill.
Also included are performances of Davis’ earlier bands, with members including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. The program’s final two hours feature digital performances, recorded in 1988 and 1989 exclusively for the “Miles Davis Radio Project.”
Rowland is the founder of ArtistOwned.com, a download/streaming service for independent music, where you can also find a digital download copy of the Miles Davis Radio Project, which debuted in 1991.
I really should have my own copy of this radio project – a marvelously detailed documentary about the life and times of Miles Davis.
I’m not sure what year it was, but I have a vivid memory of driving around Los Angeles and listening to the Miles Davis Radio Project on a local radio station (perhaps KCRW-FM (89.9).
Is it essential listening for fans of Miles Davis? Yes. For me, it’s the perfect blueprint for a TV documentary, which I have said would allow the space to tell the whole story that a motion picture could not.
But there is something wonderful about just ‘listening’ to the story of Miles Davis; the music and commentary wrapped up together for an enjoyable and fascinating ride through the life of a jazz icon.
For a time it was hard to find copies of the radio show; there were cassettes out there, but maybe that wasn’t the best answer.
So a big thanks goes out to Rowland for offering a digital download of the complete Miles Davis Radio Project. Fans of Miles Davis are lucky to have access to what is a definitive radio biography of the jazz legend.
Show # 1 Miles Davis, The Early Years 1926-1946 serves as both an introduction to Davis’ extraordinary career and also paints a picture of his youth in East St. Louis, Illinois. The show features a demonstration of ‘Round Midnight performed by trumpeter Jon Faddis.
Show #2 New York to Paris and Back 1946-1955 explores Davis’ move from Illinois to New York City to replace Dizzy Gillespie in the Charlie Parker Quintet at age nineteen. The program includes a rare and unreleased excerpt of John Coltrane’s first recording.
Show #3 Miles Davis, Midnight Idol 1955-1959 explores Davis’ rise to celebrity during the late 1950s, featuring demonstrations by saxophonist Andrew White, pianist George Duke and drummer Tony Williams.
Show #4 The 1960s are Electric, 1960-1969 explores another extraordinary Miles Davis/Gil Evans recording – Sketches of Spain and includes several never released outtakes from the session, featuring demonstrations from drummer Lenny White and pianist George Duke.
Show #5 Miles Davis, Retirement & Rebirth, The 70s & 80s looks further into Davis’ influential electric bands and now classic recordings Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, Big Fun, Get Up With It and others. It features demonstrations from trumpeter Olu Dara and guitar legend Carlos Santana.
Show #6 “Behind the Scenes with Miles Davis” 1. Columbia Records studio outtakes 2. The making of “Tutu” with Marcus Miller and Tommy LiPuma 3. Miles in Rehearsal
Shows #7 & 8 A two-hour ‘music special’ which feature a group of unreleased recordings of Miles band from the late 1980′s interspersed with rare live recordings of earlier bands, and comments from artists like Art Blakey and Joni Mitchell about the live performance experience.