babble / biopic / don cheadle

The Miles Davis Movie: Don Cheadle, trumpet player

miles-davis-45 I found this Asha Brodie interview with Vincent Wilburn Jr., nephew of Miles Davis (Miles Davis Properties), from March 2007 that had originally appeared on Jazzreview.com a month prior.

It’s a good interview, and when they get around to discussing the movie Wilburn Jr. seems pretty upbeat – especially about Don Cheadle in the lead role.

Wilburn Jr.: “I specifically wanted Don for the role. I had seen him act in the movie “Rush Hour” and I liked his bone structure and the way he was slim like Miles. I couldn’t get him out of my head for the
role of Miles.”

But the part I found most enlightening from the Q&A was learning that Cheadle has (had) been attending trumpet school, and according to Wilburn, “…learning the instrument to master his role.”

He remarked that, “Don is at the eleventh grade on the trumpet,” so I can only assume that by now Cheadle has made it through twelfth grade and graduated with trumpet honors.

This interview is more than a year old, so we’re not sure if Cheadle went on to Trumpet College for further study of the craft. Either way, I applaud the dedication in tackling the role of Miles Davis.

He has to become Miles Davis, and playing the trumpet – even they way he holds the damn thing! – is a vital part of the puzzle.

As I’ve said before, I think the musical performances in the biopic are essential and might be the moments that give the film its ‘wow’ factor.

When I think of the movie “Ray,” a film I admire very much, what springs to mind are the scenes when Jamie Foxx, as Ray Charles, is performing; be it in a smoky club, or in front of thousands, it’s the scenes where Ray performs those classic songs I always gravitate to first.

I’d say the same thing holds true, for me, with films like “Walk the Line,” “The Buddy Holly Story” and “The Doors,” to cite a few.

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles doing “Hit the Road Jack” is an example of this excitement. I’d like to think there will be numerous musical sequences in the biopic that are going to knock the audience for a loop, really bring to life the magic of Miles Davis, courtesy of the talented Mr. Cheadle.

Some might argue that a jazz song being performed by a group, not just as lovely background music to a scene, even a classic, may not translate well to the big screen – unlike any of the musical performances in “Ray,” which felt like a perfect fit.

I say phooey. Nonsense! It will look and feel and sound just fine. It’s Miles Davis!

When the audience sees Don Cheadle playing the horn in the role of Miles Davis — it’s going to bring down the house and get everyone…jazzed!

I am confident Cheadle is going to deliver a complete and memorable performance, but I have a good feeling it will be the scenes when he’s playing the trumpet – as Miles Davis – where the actor’s talent will shine the brightest.

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