The Miles Davis Movie: Filming The Steve Allen Show Appearance

I was still a ways off from making my appearance on the planet, but I can only imagine how exciting it must have been in ’64 to watch Miles Davis and Co. perform on The Steve Allen Show. I could be lost in a haze of nostalgia for a bygone era, (I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men lately so that might have something to do with it), but I’ve watched this clip (below) ten times, and I just think it’s, for lack of a more resounding adjective, cool.

Burt Lancaster is there too! Even more cool.

I’m not sure if this TV appearance is a significant moment on the list of significant moments for Miles Davis, but if someone does know whether or not this performance of “All Blues” is regarded as a major, or even minor event – besides the fact that it’s just very entertaining and thrilling for fans – please drop me a line.

Was it uncommon in ’64 to feature a jazz act on a variety/talk such as The Steve Allen Show? Or is having Miles Davis considered a coup for any show during that time period? I did some cursory research about the show (this particular incarnation of his popular talk show aired between ’62-’64), and it looks like a variety of musical guests were featured – The Beach Boys, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Zappa and Nina Simone to name a few.

So, obviously jazz musicians were welcomed to appear on TV talk/variety shows. Unlike today.

Just reading a little about Allen on Wikipedia it’s clear he was a big jazz aficionado – “the show featured plenty of jazz played by Allen and members of the show’s band, the Donn Trenner Orchestra.”

Allen also produced a second half-hour show, titled Jazz Scene, which featured West Coast jazz musicians.

Regarding the Miles Davis Biopic, I guess if you were to write up a list of 50 events/moments that should be included in the story of Miles Davis, perhaps The Steve Allen Show appearance doesn’t rate. Then again, I’m not sure without some hard evidence that it wasn’t a big deal.

Still, maybe a snippet – with Allen and Burt Lancaster(!) introducing Davis – might speak to the era, especially if the film is combining moments from the early sixties to reflect where Miles Davis stood musically and personally. Maybe there’s a scene, and in the background we see Davis performing on The Steve Allen Show.

I don’t know. I just like watching the clip. My thanks to the person who posted it.


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