Miles Davis / From The Archives


I might have to add ‘brought to you by Slate’ to this title of this feature seeing as I keep finding Miles Davis related content from the online magazine. But that’s a good thing. The more Miles the better.

It’s 2006 and takes a look at Davis’ legacy as he enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This is a really good article; that it spotlights My Funny Valentine to detail the ‘romantic Miles,’ musically-speaking, is even better because I am very fond of that song and that part of Miles’ musical style.

Miles Davis, Romantic Hero

The command of the poetic emotion made Miles Davis the greatest player of romantic songs to emerge since World War II and the innovations of Charlie Parker. By the mid-’50s, he had come into his first period of maturity and developed a style in which his lyricism was so revealing that it brought unexpected pleasure to his listeners. Davis’ improvisation testified to his willingness to share the facts of very introspective feelings. And none of what he did seemed easy.

As My Funny Valentine shows, great difficulty was audible in every musical gesture: The notes had points on them; they were slurred and bent suggestively or painfully; a tone could disappear into a sigh or begin as a pitchless whisper and tellingly work its way up into a note. This delicacy could ascend through sudden moans to yelps or descend to dark growls devoid of vibrato that were nearly embarrassing in their exposure.

Click here to read the entire article.


Miles Davis Album Art / Sketches of Spain



Artist:  Miles Davis

Title: Sketches of Spain

Date: 1959

Label: Columbia Records   CS 8271

Arranged and Conducted by: Gil Evans

Track Listing

Side 1

Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio)

Will O’ The Wisp

Side 2

The Pan Piper




And then I asked a question about the Miles Davis biopic….

cheadlepic Deadline Hollywood Daily has a nice play-by-play of the ‘Iron Man 2’ panel at Comic-Con Saturday. The whole gang was there (Favreau, Downey Jr., Rockwell) including War Machine himself, Don Cheadle.

No, I didn’t ask Cheadle about the Miles Davis film b/c I stayed up in LA this weekend, but had I traveled down to the big event I totally would have asked him about the biopic. Would it have been out of order when he’s there to hype they already super-hyped Iron Man sequel? Perhaps. Would Iron Man fans have yelled at me for bringing up non Marvel Comics related items? Maybe.

But inquiring Miles Davis minds would like to know what’s up.

Miles Davis Is A Warlord Of The Weejuns


Over at MDO favorite Ivy Style, Christian Chensvold directs our attention to Esquire jazz and style writer George Frazier’s 1965 essay he wrote for the liner notes of the album “Miles Davis’ Greatest Hits.”

It’s a terrific essay, and if you have any interest in Davis’ wardrobe and his thoughts on style (very particular about his clothes, that Miles Davis), it’s even better.

Here’s a snippet of The Warlord of the Weejuns by George Frazier:

Oh. he’s a cool one all right, but writing about him presents certain problems, for although he is the most modern, the most contemporary of men, he is also a man born out of his time. In a godawful age when a lot of silly bastards dared appear in public in Nehru jackets (thank the Lord that Nehru didn’t have to live to witness that), Miles Davis, I’m afraid, is largely wasted. But before we have the next dance, I want it clearly understood that I’m not advocating that all men aspire to dress like Davis. That would be unrealistic, for it is this man’s particular charm that he is unique, not only in his apparel, but in his lifestyle.

Miles Davis / From The Archives

milesdavis_bbc150Perhaps a bit timely that we turn our archival attention to an essay about race and American culture — in this instance as it pertains to Miles Davis. Today we have a great article from Martha Bayles that appeared in the New York Times in May 2001.

At the heart of Bayles insightful appreciation is a narrative centered around Davis’ ‘ lifelong struggle to achieve three goals: high musical art, commercial success and a deep connection with his fellow African-Americans.’

Miles Davis: The Chameleon of Cool; An Innovator With Dueling Ambitions

As cool grew “whiter” in the hands of West Coast musicians like Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Chet Baker, the dense percussive style known as hard bop became the “black” alternative. Yet this racial divide did not affect Davis, because as Gary Giddins notes, “The warring subcultures, West Coast jazz (cool) and East Coast jazz (hard bop) had the same Midwestern parent: one Miles Dewey Davis.” To the yin of cool, Davis brought rich sonority, blues feeling and swing; to the yang of hard bop, he brought stillness, melodic beauty and understatement. By refusing to color-code either his music or his audience, he rose at the age of 34 to the summit of artistic excellence.

Next came the upheavals of the 1960’s. The first was in jazz. Since the 1930’s, jazz musicians had been exploiting such modernist ideas as chromatic harmony, modal scales and electronics. But in the 1960’s the New Thing, led by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor, went further: expanding the sound vocabulary of instruments, eliminating cadential harmony and the modal system, exploring polytonality and atonality, adopting irregular meter, and finally abolishing metric time. The goal, turbo-boosted by black political activism, was total improvisatory freedom.

Click here to read the full essay.

Miles Davis & Marketing


Read: Vote For Miles! – The Electric Miles Davis / by Graham Johnston

Today In Miles Davis Movie News…


Thankfully Ovation TV aired The Miles Davis Story a few times last week. It’s definitely a documentary worth seeing whether you know nothing or everything about Miles Davis. Ian Carr is great. The old footage, and focus on the early years, is really good. It’s not a perfect doc on the life of Miles Davis, but we’ll take what we can get.

I still contend that if this movie never makes it Ken Burns should do a 5-part series for PBS.

There is The Miles Davis Documentary, directed by Miles Davis biopic screenwriter Christopher Wilkinson, but we have no idea when it’s debuting and on what channel – though cable (HBO) makes the most sense.

As for poker superstar Don Cheadle, well, there are 6 projects listed as In Development via imdb – Untitled Miles Davis Biopic is one of them. It has a 2011 date with it, so perhaps all my carrying on about no news is silly …because it’s only 2009!

We shall see.

Talkin’ Miles: Pangaea, 1959 & Neil Young


  • Hard Format shines their music-related design notes on Miles Davis’ Pangaea. Art work by Teruhisa Tajima and photographs by Tadayuki Naitoh.
  • Miles Davis is definitely part of the story in Fred Kaplan’s new book, “1959: The Year Everything Changed.”

Miles Davis / In Pictures

Miles Davis © Frank Stewart
Miles Davis © Frank Stewart

Miles Davis / From The Archives

pb-miles This is more like From The Archives once removed, because for this edition I am going to reference – me. Actually, it’s a post I wrote late last year on the Movie Blog, which spotlights the famous Miles Davis interview in Playboy.

The Miles Davis Movie: Filming the ‘Playboy’ interview

Alex Haley’s ‘candid conversation with the jazz world’s premier iconoclast‘ in 1962 was the first Playboy Interview (Volume 9, Number 9) and the conversation is both candid and enlightening – which you’d expect from Miles Davis anyway.

There are also some great quotes:

“I don’t pay no attention to what critics say about me, the good or the bad. The toughest critic I got is myself…and I’m too vain to play anything I think is bad.”

“I don’t dig people in clubs who don’t pay the musicians respect. You ever see anybody bugging the classical musicians when they are on the job and trying to work?”

And just to prove how ‘cool’ Playboy was back in the day, some of the folks interviewed in the months after the Miles conversation included Peter Sellers, Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra and Malcolm X.

pb-miles2 Could the ‘interview’ be a throwaway moment in the film, maybe a scene between Miles and Alex Haley talking? Did the interview cause any controversy in the media, with fans, etc? Haley did go to the gym with Miles, so there’s a great opportunity to show Miles’ passion for boxing.

If anything the Playboy article might be used as jumping off point to reflect Miles’ feelings on race and other important, social issues. Miles didn’t need a magazine as a conduit to express his feelings, but in the context of a film, maybe it’s a good device to connect different personal issues and opinions circulating at that point in his life.

Here’s an excerpt from Miles, the Autobiography:


It’s 1962-63, we’re in that musical chapter of Miles’ life that makes up Steamin’, Quiet Nights and Seven Steps to Heaven, so clearly transition was stirring, which could be a good source of drama… and what’s a great biopic without drama.

Miles Davis / Album Art



Artist: Miles Davis

Title: At Carnegie Hall

Date: 1962

Label: Columbia Records   CL 1812

Cover Art: Joe Eula

Line Up:

Miles Davis: trumpet
Hank Mobley: sax (Tenor)
Wynton Kelly: piano
Paul Chambers: bass
Jimmy Cobb: drums

with the

Gil Evans Orchestra

Track Listing

Side 1

So What
Spring Is Here
No Blues

Side 2

Someday My Prince Will Come
The Meaning of the Blues
New Rhumba


Miles Davis / The Boxer


[Part 2 in a series of posts featuring articles, photographs and opinions about the relationship between the sport of boxing and the life and music of Miles Davis]

The latest installment and excerpt is from a terrific issue of Stop Smiling magazine. It’s their boxing issue, in fact, which features cover stories on filmmaker Ken Burns, who chats about the life of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, and his film on the subject, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; Peter Relic investigating the presence of boxing in the life and music of Miles Davis; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer discussing the art of boxing and its place in American literature.

By the way, that’s also easily one of my favorite photos of Miles Davis (via the wonderful Mr. Jim Marshall).


The Potent Presence of Boxing in the Life and Music of Miles Davis

By Peter Relic

In 1953, Miles had used his training in the ring to help kick his heroin addiction, emulating the discipline and determination of middleweight Sugar Ray Robinson. As Miles said, “Sugar Ray was one of the few idols I ever had.” Here, in 1955, Miles was focused on his music, and used boxing as a common experience to share with his friends and fellow musicians. One of them was David Amram. — Ed.

Miles often had residencies at the Cafe Bohemia, then one of the best jazz clubs in Greenwich Village. The club was also a second home to Charles Mingus’ group, which at that time featured French horn player and composer David Amram, a fistic specialist who had boxed during his two-year stint in the Army.

“By the time I met Miles in ’55,” says David Amram, “segregation was over, but racism wasn’t. Jazz remained a meeting place for a lot of us who had evolved beyond that.”

Amram is standing in the back garden of a house near the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where his daughter Alana is hosting a New Year’s Eve bash. As the final seconds of 2004 tick away, Amram, 74, pulls at a bottle of Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda while spieling with beatific gusto.

“Once I was at a party with Miles where some guy was really being a drag until, suddenly, somebody shut this jerk up with one quick word. And Miles turned to me and said, ‘Gene Fullmer!’ which was a reference to the one perfect left hook of Sugar Ray Robinson’s that knocked Gene Fullmer out for the title in 1957.”

Miles in Boxing Ring 1971 © Jim Marshall

Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue

milesdavisI watched Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue on Ovation TV this evening.

I do not love-love the fusion work (I like it), but the documentary is definitely worth a viewing because of the amazing footage; notably Miles boxing and the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. In fact, the Isle of Wight concert footage is awesome.

After watching the sequence about Betty Davis, I now think the story of her one-year marriage to Miles Davis would make an excellent movie. I have already discussed Miles’ relationship with Betty Davis as being part of the biopic (The Miles Davis Movie: The Betty Year), but just their story alone could make a pretty good movie. How could an actress not want to portray a force of nature like Betty Davis?

Miles Davis / Album Art



Artist: Miles Davis

Title: Friday Night at the Blackhawk, San Francisco

Date: Recorded on April 21st, 1961 at the Blackhawk Supper Club

Line Up

Miles Davis:  trumpet
Hank Mobley:  tenor saxophone
Wynton Kelly:  piano
Paul Chambers:  bass
Jimmy Cobb:  drums

Track Listing

Side 1

Bye Bye Blackbird

Side 2

All of You
No Blues
Bye Bye
Love I’ve Found You

(thanks –

Talkin’ Miles: Photos, Documentaries & Quotes


  • “When Miles Davis played a simple phrase sometimes that expressed something with more elegance and beauty than any very technically accomplished phrase could say.” – Terence Blanchard, Choice Cuts
  • You might not think would have an artists page for Miles Davis. Oh, but they do. It’s nothing super special, but CMT deserves a tip of the cowboy hat, for sure.
  • I watched The Miles Davis Story last night on Ovation TV. It’s definitely a documentary worth seeing whether you know nothing or everything about Miles Davis. Ian Carr is great. The old footage and focus on the early years is really good. It’s not a perfect doc on the life of Miles Davis. I still contend Ken Burns should do a 5-part series on Davis for PBS. But that’s just me. Of course there’s the movie!