I stumbled across a somewhat notable interview Miles Davis did with Don DeMichael in 1969 for Rolling Stone – (Jazz’s Picasso puts it in black and white; it’s an interesting enough read, but what caught my attention was this particular passage:
There’s the one about how he lost his voice (the Davis voice is a legend unto itself): He had a throat operation in the early Fifties and was not supposed to speak for a period of time, but he became so angry at a record company owner that he began to shout; from that moment, so the story goes, he has not been able to talk above a hoarse, rasping whisper.
That ‘hoarse, rasping whisper’ of a voice is as much a part of the character of Miles Davis as the style, attitude, talent and so on.
Now that we’re mostly convinced the Miles movie will not be a conventional narrative, rather than a ‘deconstructed biopic’ style that has yet to reveal just how non-traditional Don Cheadle wants to go, I’m curious as to how close the actor will mimic Davis’ raspy tone of voice in the film.
With all the other components of making the character of Miles Davis come to life, capturing the ‘voice’ is vital, in my opinion, to completing the puzzle.
In his 2001 editorial, “Miles Davis: A Jazz Genius in the Guise of a Hustler,” Robin Kelley writes of Miles’ voice –
“…the voice Amiri Baraka once described as his ‘hipster foghorn bass.’ He used his voice to great effect, for put- downs, romancing and biting one-liners.”