Today in Miles Davis Movie News….

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On the flip side, there’s nonstop news regarding star, director and driving force behind the Miles Davis Biopic Don Cheadle’s involvement with Iron Man 2, The Avengers and the seemingly dozens of other projects Marvel Studios has lined up.

The Playlist has a very thorough breakdown of the Marvel projects already on the production menu and those still traveling through the creative process.

Part IA Look Into Marvel Studios And The Fabled ‘Nine Film Plan’

Part IIA Look Into The Potential 2012 Marvel 3.0 Schedule & Beyond

If you look for the Miles Davis biopic on IMDB it’s listed with 2011 for release year. With The Avengers already slated, plus other projects in-development, I’m just not sure when Don Cheadle is going to be able to slide playing one of the most iconic figures in music and culture onto an already packed schedule.

Hmmm? Huh? Hmmm?

It appears likely that news of any real significance is going to be light.

However, conjecture will be plentiful.

I’ll breakdown this mega-anticipated biopic scene by scene, page by page and cast member by cast member if I have to – without knowing the slightest damn thing whatsoever about what is actually going on.

Still… it’s all about effort when writing about the biopic of a legendary, yet controversial musician with a non-traditional narrative that has now found itself locked in a battle for production space on an A-list actor’s schedule with a comic book empire that’s slowly but surely adapting its greatest and most popular characters into movies that will redefine the Hollywood blockbuster.

So there’s that.

We do have a new website on the cooker. That will be fun.

We’ll get there. It might be 2013 and re-developed into an Anime-style feature, but we’ll get there.

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Miles Davis Makes You A Better Guitarist

guitar_neck As someone who, as a youngster, wanted to be Eddie Van Halen, I’ve always loved the guitar and guitar players – from Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan to Steve Miller, Wes Montgomery and Dickey Betts.

So here comes Wayne Brown and a fantastic post from his Wayne’s Guitar Blog titled:

Ten Miles Davis Tips for Guitarists

The article is inspired by the recent Kind of Blue at 50 panel at SXSW, which featured George Avakian, Vincent Wilburn, Jr., Erin Davis, David Fricke, moderator Ashley Kahn and Quincy Jones discussing the iconic album.

So what can guitarists learn from discussing Miles Davis and his famous recording? “A lot,” writes Wayne.

He adds: “The principals that guided Miles explain why he has been described as nanotechnology. The micro components of his music and ways can seem dissonant and counter-intuitive, but together they produce results that have fascinated music fans, musicians and scholars ever since.”

Don’t Dwell on the Past and Appreciate the Ballad are two of the ten, quite interesting, Miles Davis-inspired tips for guitar players.

Wayne also includes excellent quotes from the SXSW panel.

Guitarist or not this is a great post to check out for anyone who loves Miles Davis, or appreciates the craft of a musician. It also further illustrates the deep and far-reaching influence of Miles Davis on the creative process.

Creativity begets creativity.

Miles Davis, Quite Quotable

directions-miles-davis_9d3c15f2 I enjoy Doug Ramsey’s Blog (Rifftides) quite a lot, and today he’s been kind of enough to post some rather excellent quotes from Miles Davis.

Hey, What’s Don Cheadle Doing? *

don-style Traitor is set for release in the UK this week so Don Cheadle is doing some press to promote the crime-thriller. This easy-breezy interview from the Daily Mail focuses on the actor’s sartorial preferences.

Did you know that Don Cheadle owns a lot of hats?

“I have a Sixties-style soft pork-pie hat and a panama straw hat with a small snap brim. There’s even a shot of me wearing a cowboy hat.”

* when he’s not working on the Miles Davis biopic

Listen… to Miles Davis

miles9 Via David Hill at the always enjoyable jazz Hot House, I was reminded of Lockwood & Summit’s fantastic (and rare) audio interview of Miles Davis on KXLW in East St. Louis from 1953. Miles was visiting with DJ Harry Frost on his ‘Fresh Air’ show.

David sums it up best: “Totally bizarre to hear Miles without the rasp in his voice. Miles talks about the first time he heard Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the mid-forties, and how he was captivated by the new sound – bebop.”

Listen to the interview HERE.

We’re patiently waiting for part 2.

Miles Davis @ SXSW (postscript)

coolest_pic_ever Pictured: George Avakian, Quincy Jones, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke and Erin Davis.

Yesterday at SXSW was the big Kind of Blue @ 50 panel. The above photo comes courtesy Linda Park (great photo, LP).

Writes Linda: “Today’s Kind of Blue at 50 panel reminded me of the best parts of Davis. It was full of musical education, once in a lifetime stories and a reminder of the rich history that brings us all together here at ye olde SXSW.

When Quincy Jones joined in as the talk was nearly over and proceeded to do impressions of Miles asking Herbie Hancock if he liked his new shoes (an example of their onstage banter) and telling Jones “Everybody knows that’s my shit,” when he asked him to sign a painting, it was just… totally bananas. The back and forth dialogue between him and legendary jazz producer George Avakian, who turned 90 this week was a total delight… one of those rare and special SXSW moments that appear like magic… you can’t believe your eyes… but here’s the photographic proof.”

Ken Shane from PopDose (a great site, btw) also stopped by the panel: “The panel, particularly Avakian and Fricke, provided some stellar insights into Miles and his artistic process. At one point, Quincy Jones appeared in the back of the room, and was invited onstage. He had a very close relationship with Miles, and provided some wonderful, and often humorous memories of the jazz great.”

I’m sure it was a great event. I was definitely there in spirit.

The Miles Davis Movie: PG-13 or Rated R?

miles-davis-biography No biopic of Miles Davis, be it traditional narrative or off the wall bizarre, is going to be genuine without a great deal of bad language. The man could turn a phrase, as it were.

Flip through a few pages of his entertaining autobiography (here’s page 65!) and it’s clear Miles Davis had a talent for the profane.

But it was always more than just one “motherf**ker” after another. To categorize Miles as simply a master of dirty words is missing the bigger picture entirely. Amid the obscene language is much wisdom and understanding, a gift for storytelling and a ‘cool,’ linguistic style. Some people just have a way of putting things. Certainly after awhile the expletives can feel like a brick to the head, but there was often ‘truth’ wrapped up with the colorful language.

Nevertheless, Miles Davis could rock the bad words – no way around it. And that was just who he was/is. So for the biopic I wonder how much profanity is already in the script and just how much they will allow in the film. I figure anything under 20 “motherf**kers” and it’s just not cricket.

And here is where the MPAA comes into play, while Don Cheadle and team have to decide whether or not the Miles Davis biopic is going to built for Rated R or PG-13.

Personally I think it can succeed either way; let’s figure not too much violence and sex, but a heavy dose of strong language, alcohol/drug content and the always helpful ‘adult themes.’

I checked IMDB, and for a traditional music biopic like Ray, the MPAA gave it a PG-13 rating for ‘depiction of drug addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements.’ On the flip side, a non-traditional music biopic such as I’m Not There was Rated R for ‘language, some sexuality and nudity.’

You could make the case that an R rating might hurt the film at the box office, but then again The Godfather is Rated R, so that’s about as good a counter-argument as it gets. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter as long as the film is great.

It’s interesting, not too mention frustrating, how the MPAA ratings systems works. There’s a wealth of excellent anti-ratings system material to get a feel for some of the hypocrisy and silliness surrounding the process of putting a rating on a film. Kirby Dick’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a fantastic documentary which explores the American movie ratings board.

Now if I could only get my hands on that script I’d have a much better idea of where this Miles Davis biopic ship is headed….

Listen to ‘Kind of Blue,’ improve your life

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US News & World Report’s fluffy list of 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009 is filled with the type of examples you’d expect from a list such as this – however they do offer one extra special suggestion for anyone looking to improve their life this year, and that is to Listen to Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

Kenneth Terrell’s article is actually a reprint from last year, but nevertheless we applaud US News & World Report’s prescience in including Miles Davis and his musical masterpiece in their guide for making your 2009 the very best it can be.

Miles Davis + Skateboard = Cool!

miles_davis_quintet_skate

Growing up I was more into surfing than skateboarding, but one look at Western Edition’s Miles Davis ‘59 Quintet Boards, and I’m ready to hit the local skate park immediately.

If there were any doubt about Miles Davis’ everlasting appeal to creative types look no further than these awesome skateboards from Western Edition’s 10-year Spring/Summer 2009 collection – a set of five each featuring a band member who played on “King of Blue” 50 years ago.

Western Edition is celebrating 10 years of board making this year, which also coincides nicely with the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ classic “Kind of Blue” album. What better way to celebrate than to build a set of freakin’ cool skateboards featuring the Miles David Quintet? None, this is perfect!

Maybe you’d prefer to catch mad air with John Coltrane under your feet. Or grind with bassist Paul Chambers. The whole gang is here in an amazing set of skateboards. I will take all five please!

The series includes two tee shirts featuring the Miles Davis graphic and a quintet of postcards to be included with each board.

The Miles Davis Movie: Should Don Cheadle not direct and just focus on playing Miles Davis?

cheadle_miles_getty_2601 File this under conjecture because I need material, people. Let it be known I’m on record in my confidence with Cheadle as star and director of the Miles Movie, but that doesn’t mean I’m not up for a fun game of What If.

From what I’ve read, Cheadle has a vision for the biopic – namely that he doesn’t plan to follow the traditional blueprint. As star and director (and driving force) Cheadle is perched atop this project as its chief steward.

But let’s say he decides to focus solely on the role – a big role at that.

The idea of bringing in a new director would instantly open up to the project to a new influence and with it the possibility of changes to the script and narrative. This depends on whom of course. If it’s Michael Mann, for example, he’s going to put his stamp on the project. If it’s a newcomer then most likely Cheadle keeps the upper hand in steering the development.

Seeing as his Crescendo Productions is producing the biopic, you’d figure Cheadle’s (other) function, as producer, would keep his hands firmly locked on the steering wheel as the movie takes shape.

Right now it’s very much a Don Cheadle project, but I think the overall production would be retooled were a big-name director brought in. This isn’t to say Cheadle would just bow out of the development and say he’ll see everyone on set when he’s Miles Davis. But my guess is alterations to the theme would be in order.

It’s not like we’re a week out from shooting and a new director is brought in last minute; then I’d say he/she would just go with what’s ready for the camera.

But as of now there’s a script. There are probably numerous drafts in circulation as the team constructs the narrative. However it’s still early enough that if Cheadle brought on someone else to direct it wouldn’t harm the schedule, which is slow to begin with.

As far as I can tell the Miles Davis biopic would mark Cheadle’s first time in the directors’ chair. Back in June I wrote, “It’s going to be challenging enough for Don Cheadle to transform into the mind, body and soul of one of the most important figures in jazz music history… let alone direct the movie.”

I still feel the same way, but I’m wholly confident in his vision and passion for the movie; a vision, to be honest, I’m still trying to realize knowing it will be a non-traditional narrative, when all along I thought we were headed for something “Ray”-like.

I did ask readers who they’d be interested in seeing take the reins of the film were they given the choice. Names like Steven Soderbergh, Paul Thomas Anderson and Spike Jonze were thrown out, and really, there’s a host of top shelf directors who could craft something wonderful with the story of Miles Davis.

But just as I wrote last year: “I’m quite confident that Cheadle is bursting with ideas for the biopic, ready to produce something special — for fans of Miles Davis and just fans of good movies….”

Miles Davis @ SXSW

jazziz-cover If you’re attending SXSW this year there’s a host of excellent conferences and panels to check out – notably Kind of Blue at 50, which takes place on Thursday March 19 at 5:00 PM.

The panel features a fine lineup of speakers:

George Avakian, Producer
Erin Davis, Miles Davis Properties
David Fricke, Rolling Stone
Vincent Wilburn Jr, Nefdrum Productions

Ashley Kahn, author of Kind of Blue: The Making of The Miles Davis Masterpiece, will moderate.

The session will take place at the Austin Convention Center, Room 12 AB, 500 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, Tex.

Kind of Blue: Made in Heaven

The Miles Davis Movie: Filming ‘Kind of Blue’

A Miles Davis album every man should own (so says Esquire)

miles-davis-sketches-of-spain I look at Best Of lists (or related list-type-things) purely out of curiosity, but I put about zero weight behind any of them because who cares what the editors of this or that magazine think are the best movie sex scenes or songs from the ’80s. It’s pure conjecture, and even if I agree sometimes, it’s still pretty mindless.

However, here in the land of All Things Miles Davis anything related to the jazz icon grabs out attention – even where a list is concerned.

This brings us to Esquire and their 75 Albums Every Man Should Own feature currently online.

Here is a quick and easy rundown of the 75 (thank you prefix).

There are some excellent selections and some glaring omissions, but Miles Davis is among the 75, so at least we know the Esquire team isn’t nuts – because good lord every man (and woman) should most definitely own at least one Miles Davis album… if not three or four.

And while you might think they’d go obvious with “Kind of Blue,” instead they toss a curve ball and drop “Sketches of Spain” into the pool of 75. No complaints here.

Sketches of Spain, Miles Davis

Because jazz masters too infrequently step out of the genre’s improvisational comfort zone and into somewhere classical — somewhere with movements, somewhere in Spain.

General Motors drops Ken Burns

mileskenburns And so goes my idea to have Ken Burns produce a 10-part documentary on the life and times of Miles Davis. He’s an incredible filmmaker and no doubt lining up new sponsors right now. A 10-part doc, Ken, I’m telling you – that’s the play. Fine, 6 parts. It’s all good. We’ll get Keith David on the voice-over and away we go.

And if you need persuading, I’ll send Don Logan.

Miles Davis TV performance this week

music_feature1-1_39 According to JazzTimes, Miles Davis: The Sound of Miles Davis, a rare 1959 TV appearance by the trumpet legend, will air Wednesday, March 11, at 10:30 pm on WLIW21 New York Public Television and nationwide on Public Television.

The TV event is part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Kind of Blue.

The performance was filmed April 2, 1959. Davis performs with the Gil Evans Orchestra and one of his “great quintets,” featuring tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Opening the set with “So What” from Kind of Blue, Davis takes extra solos prior to and directly after Coltrane to make up for the absence of alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, who purportedly was unable to attend the taping due to illness. A trio of tunes from Miles Ahead (1957) follows, including Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke,” performed as part of a medley with Gil Evans’ “Blues for Pablo” and Ahmad Jamal’s “New Rhumba.”

The program was taped for the Robert Herridge Theater at Studio 61 in New York City, and first broadcast July 21, 1960.

Hey, What’s Don Cheadle Doing? *

cheadle-new Don Cheadle, the man who would be Miles Davis, proved himself quite the card player by reaching day two of the 2009 National Heads-Up Poker Championship at the Caesars Palace Poker Tournament Room this weekend with a win over David Pham. Ultimately, Huck Seed outplayed an elite field of 63 of poker’s best to win the title.

* when he’s not working on the Miles Davis biopic