John Coltrane. Whenever someone decides to make that biopic we’ll happily rev up the movie Blog right away. A true jazz giant, Coltrane was a revolutionary right alongside Charlie Parker.
He hit the limelight after joining the famed Miles Davis quintet (with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones). The First Great Quintet would go on to record some extraordinary music together between 1955 and 57.
And so we come to the Miles Davis biopic and one of many ‘big’ questions:
Who should play John Coltrane?
They could go the unknown route and cast someone we’ve never heard of, which I guess is fine, as I’m not expecting the cast to be star-studded from top to bottom. It’s not “Ocean’s 11.”
Off the top of my head I like Isaiah Washington, Hill Harper, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mekhi Phifer and Delroy Lindo – but I don’t know if any of them scream John Coltrane. I’m sure I’m forgetting others, but I’m just riffin’ here. I also like Bokeem Woodbine, both for his cool name and his role as Fathead Newman in “Ray.”
How about Common? He’s appeared in flicks like “American Gangster” and “Smokin’ Aces” and definitely has charisma.
Look, the John Coltrane character might only be on screen for 5 minutes, but it’s still an important part! OK, what about Harry J. Lennix? He’s a good actor. I’m a fan.
And whether or not musicians from the First and Second Great Quintets (besides Coltrane) will be featured prominently remains to be seen, yet one would have to imagine the likes of Charlie Parker, George Avakian, Gil Evans and Cicely Tyson would need to make an appearance in any biopic of Miles Davis.
They decided to have Larenz Tate play Quincy Jones in “Ray,” so clearly finding a John Coltrane isn’t impossible.
Many readers have mentioned Denzel Washington for the Coltrane role, which would be great, but I have a feeling he’s sticking to being the leading man these days.
Unless it’s a supporting role so rousing that it screams Oscar attention I can’t see Washington onboard, but I could be wrong. Perhaps it’s just the kind of small, yet powerful movie role he can get excited about.
He certainly knows his way around the jazz world and playing an instrument having starred in Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues.”
Don’t forget about Wesley Snipes. If the guy isn’t in jail for tax evasion I’d consider him for the part. Yet another vet of “Mo Better Blues.”
I’ll be interested to see if any notable talent gets attached to the Miles Davis movie. Maybe the producers plan to keep it stocked with unknowns, leaving Cheadle as the A-lister.