The Miles Davis Movie: Filming Miles Davis ‘At Newport 1958’

It’s debatable if this performance in 1958 at the Newport Jazz Festival is necessary for the Miles Davis biopic. The new sextet, with recent additions Jimmy Cobb and Bill Evans, were part of a festival tribute to Duke Ellington, but perhaps more importantly this was the collaboration that would record “Kind of Blue” six months later.

The bigger question is how much ‘performing’ will audiences see in the film? I recall a whole bunch of performance scenes from “Ray,” a mix of the early years in smoky clubs, studio work and on big tours played in front of thousands.

Is that the appropriate template? Do we get Miles Davis as a youngster playing in East St. Louis and then the clubs of NYC, followed by various studio work (notably the “Kind of Blue” sessions) and then on stage at different points in his career?

I’d say as much of Don Cheadle playing as Miles Davis the better. Plus, the music itself can be front and center. Here is where the artistry of filmmaking is requested — a blend of sound and vision that equals the thrilling moment(s) people cling to when the lights go up, the memory happily recalled because it’s so poignant or just plain entertaining.

I can imagine the Miles Davis biopic having plenty of those moments.


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