Saturday Night Live: George Kennedy/Miles Davis

Who knew? It’d sure be nice to see some footage of this Miles Davis performance.

Saturday Night Live: George Kennedy/Miles Davis

Air Date: Saturday October 17, 1981

Episode Summary: Sketches include “To Tell the Truth,” “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” “La Cage Aux Follies ’81,” “Velvet Jones,” “Rubik’s Teeth,” “Editorial,” “Mr. Bill in LA” (film), and “Harry Anderson’s Grappler Tricks.”

Miles Davis performed “Jean Pierre.”


‘The Genius of Miles Davis’ Is A Very Large CD Collection

The 43-CD collection assembles all eight multi-CD box sets released between 1996 and 2007.

The consummate artistry of Miles Davis and the scope of his musical vision at Columbia Records is paid the ultimate tribute on The Genius of Miles Davis.

For the first time, this new collection brings together the eight deluxe multi-CD box sets that were known as The Miles Davis Series.  Each volume – seven of which have collectible “metal spines” – explored a major phase of the artist’s development from 1955 (Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961) through 1975 (The Complete On The Corner Sessions).

Each volume presented the music from  various LPs, plus a wealth of previously unissued session material.  The eight box sets, totaling 43 CDs of music, were originally released on Columbia/Legacy between 1996 and 2007, and won a total of eight Grammy Awards.

Weight: 21 pounds.

Getty Images: Inside The Miles Davis Collection

(pt. 7 in a series)

Title: Miles Davis On ‘The Sound Of Miles Davis’
Date created: 02 Apr 1959

Click here to view the awesome PHOTO!

The Miles Davis Online Interview: Michael Symonds

(Artist Series, Volume 13)

Any painting of Michael Symonds is both unique and full of beautiful color. But the jazz paintings of Michael Symonds are extra special to me; the singularity and lush palette of colors that define each of his paintings combined with the portraits of talented musicians who helped shape the very foundation of jazz music.

Symonds’ ‘oil on canvas’ jazz portraits include Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. And then there’s Miles Davis. I was first introduced to Symonds’ artwork via, which features the paintings of the talented artist in their Art Gallery. It was here where I discovered the wonderful paintings “Miles Ahead” (above) and “Miles Davis” (below), which I am very honored to be able to present with this interview.

I would urge anyone not already familiar with Symonds’ work to peruse his paintings at the Art Gallery, or visit the artist’s website. There’s a sensuousness to Symonds’ work, the result of a deft brushstroke and the roaring blend of oil pants on canvas; paintings such as “Monks Mood” and “Clifford Brown” nicely exemplifies Symonds’ immense talent – and love of jazz.

I caught up with Symonds recently, who was kind enough to chat about his work, artistic influences and Miles Davis.

Miles Davis Online: Why Miles? What sparked your interest to paint the jazz legend?

Michael Symonds: Miles Davis is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, if not the greatest, and like countless fans, I regard him as a personal favorite. I think of Miles as the Picasso of Jazz – an artist who constantly reinvented himself and pioneered new styles during a very long and prolific career. There are few musicians who I admire more.

Miles Davis Online: You feature many of the jazz greats in your collection; would you say there is something inherently unique about jazz musicians that make them such compelling subjects to paint?

Michael Symonds: Absolutely. These artists lived incredibly interesting lives during a remarkable time in history. I am fascinated with the music and the lives of the musicians who defined the jazz scene during the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.

For me, these portraits are my way of paying homage to the brilliant musicians who have had a profound influence on art and culture. I am very fortunate that my portraits resonate so positively with other jazz fans and that there is valid interest in collecting my work.

Miles Davis Online: Obviously music plays a vital role in your artwork. Can you talk about your musical influences and how they have impacted your work as a painter?

Michael Symonds: I have a wide range of musical interests, so that could be a very long list! My passion ultimately is the world of jazz. As an artist it is critical to connect to your subject matter and the emotional and intellectual aspects of jazz definitely inspire me. My ultimate goal is to create works of art that not only please me, but offer a personal connection for the viewer as well.

Miles Davis Online: Who are some of the past or contemporary painters who influence you?

Michael Symonds: There are so many great artists who I look up to, but I’m not sure that their influence shows up in my work directly. For contemporary artists, I admire the gutsy figurative painting of Lucian Freud and the sensitive realism of Antonio Lopez Garcia.

From very early on I’ve had a deep affection for the work of Max Beckmann and of course the old masters are a constant source of inspiration. Recently I was in New York and saw numerous masterpieces, but what I remember most vividly are the power and intensity of the Van Gogh’s.

Miles Davis Online: Are you working on anything special at the moment?

Michael Symonds: I am in a landscape phase right now.

Miles Davis Online: Can we expect to see another Miles Davis painting down the road?

Michael Symonds: Of course. However, at this time I am painting jazz portraits on a commission basis. I have made the process of commissioning a painting easy and straightforward. I encourage interested jazz fans and collectors to contact me for more information.

Miles Davis Online: Favorite Miles Davis album?

Michael Symonds: One? “Kind of Blue”. I’ll never tire of those six tracks.

* Original artwork and reproductions of Michael Symonds’ work are available at If you’re interested in purchasing, commissioning or licensing artwork please contact

* You can see more of Symonds’ original artwork at his official website.

Artwork is © Michael Symonds

Miles Davis Brand Gets Boost With New Products

Goldmine magazine is featuring an article about the latest Miles Davis-related products. Writer Chris M. Junior catches up with Vince Wilburn Jr., a Davis nephew, and Erin Davis, son of the late jazz icon, who both oversee Miles Davis Properties with Cheryl Davis, daughter of Miles.

Who we do not see mentioned is Darryl Porter, who was (and still might be) carrying the title of General Manager of Miles Davis Properties. His absence from the article could mean there has been a management shake-up inside the Estate.

It’s worth a read to get caught up with what the Davis team has coming down the road, but Wilburn’s quote that the business team turns down, “95 percent of the things that come to us,” is interesting.

When you look at the Miles Davis tribute headphones from Monster Cable Products and the Bitches Brew ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – both products I think are perfectly fine, by the way -, one must wonder what deals didn’t make the cut. I’m sure all sorts of business ventures come knocking to try and slice off a piece of the Miles Davis brand to help sell a product, but I wonder how many BMW/Nike/Microsoft/etc… types are interested in utilizing the personal style and musical legacy of Miles Davis. Cool sells. Timeless cool is even better. So Miles Davis fits the bill quite nicely for that type of pitch.

The update on the business of Miles is basically the Bitches Brew: Legacy Edition, a mammoth Genius of Miles Davis box-set due in September, the possibility of taking the We Want Miles exhibit, currently on display through Aug. 29 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, on the road to locales like New York, Brazil and Japan and maybe a tour featuring various rhythm sections from Davis’ career.

Oh yeah – and the Miles Davis Biopic. The article informs us that by the end of the summer, the Estate expects to see a draft of the script. And apparently Cheadle continues his trumpet lessons to prepare for the lead role. “A couple of years ago, Cheadle had moved really fast to a fifth-grade level as a trumpet player,” Erin Davis says. “He’s probably well into the college level by now.”

Nothing on the digital media side; no iPad or iPhone Apps. I also didn’t see anything about releasing rare tracks presently tucked away in the Miles Davis vaults. The Estate did recently shift their woeful official website over to the friendly confines of Sony, which unveiled a much better website design worthy of the jazz legend, but website-related projects were not mentioned along with upcoming endeavors.

I think it’s on the ‘net where a brand as great as ‘Miles Davis’ can really venture into some exciting directions. And with the biopic one day arriving, the web will be integral in the marketing strategy.

Photo by Jim Marshall

The Miles Davis Movie: Which Way Are We Going?

Interesting article in the NY Times Sunday about biopics.

The Miles Davis Biopic was not mentioned, obviously(!), but the points made by Dennis Lim about the delicate craft of producing a successful biopic can be easily connected to the Miles Davis Movie – and the many hurdles it faces as the project remains in an ongoing and agonizing cycle of development.

Often maligned yet ever popular, the biopic is surely the most reductive of movie genres. All biographers face the task of wrangling the unruly particulars and generally undramatic shape of a life and a career into a coherent narrative. Writers working on doorstop-size volumes find this hard enough; a two-hour movie wrestles with the same challenges more acutely — and is much more likely to fail.

For as long as I have been writing about the movie, ‘narrative’ remains the biggest issue/talking point, and will surely determine whether or not Don Cheadle’s ‘deconstructed’ style succeeds in telling the story of Miles Davis.

At their worst, biopics indulge the vanity of an actor with an eye on an Oscar nomination. They betray the heavy hand of a screenwriter who has created composites and streamlined events to fit a three-act structure or the familiar arc of rise-fall-rise. When not stretching the facts, they get bogged down in mere data. They diminish their subjects or else succumb to hagiography. More often than not we know how they will end.

Well, Cheadle has already tossed out a doozy of a quote by saying his concept for the movie features “wall-to-wall truth,” but is “not really much concerned about facts.” The ‘facts’ quote certainly raised a few eyebrows; are we headed for something more like Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There,” a creative mash-up of reality and fiction? Two hours isn’t enough time to tell the whole story, but we hope Cheadle keeps the narrative along the lines of fact, rather than some bizarre story inspired by Miles Davis.

I truly believe the Miles Davis Biopic could vault Cheadle into serious Oscar contention, along with other nominations for the film; I noted that the Miles Davis Biopic might have just enough blend of a really good movie, the Don Cheadle factor and the Academy’s desire to honor the legacy of an entertainment icon to bring home the gold.

But I don’t think Cheadle is going to let the Oscar element influence how he pieces the film together.

And because there is an expectation that biopics will reveal something previously unknown about public figures, they often pin their protagonists to the psychiatric couch, rummaging about in their journals or childhoods in search of the Rosebud — to borrow a term from that veiled biopic “Citizen Kane”— the skeleton key that will explain everything.

Not sure there are any ‘big’ secrets out there. Just getting through Davis’ life that we already know will be hard enough to whittle down to 2 hours.

There is no shortage of botched biopics, but there is an equally long (if less noticed) history of innovations, alternative approaches and avoidance strategies when it comes to screen biographies.

No one is saying Cheadle shouldn’t shake things up. As much as I would love a “Ray”-like version of the Miles Davis Movie, I am not opposed to seeing the jazz icon’s life presented in more creative structures.

Films about artists are a popular biopic subset — both in the Anthology series and in general — which raises the inevitable question of how to depict the creative process and how to calibrate the relationship between the life and the work.

I have hammered home the point that the biopic should show as much performance footage as possible – on stage and in the studio.

Perhaps this is the most profound pleasure a biopic can offer: the sense of one artist being moved by another.

Shouldn’t be a problem considering the variety of artists Davis crossed paths with throughout his life.

Hey, What’s Don Cheadle Doing?*

don-styleMatt Damon and Don Cheadle enjoyed Martorano’s restaurant at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Saturday, July 3rd following the celebrity poker tournament, Ante up for Africa. Joined by a handful of their closest friends, Damon and Cheadle reminisced about their movie roles including Rounders and Ocean’s 13, while Martorano’s played clips of the films on the dining room TVs.

The group enjoyed house specialties including the homemade meatballs, made famous by celebrated Chef Steve Martorano. As customary with celebrity diners, each signed the wall hanging with personalized comments for Martorano. (Vegas News)

This is such a nothing story, but I like to think Cheadle was talking to Damon about possibly joining him on the Miles Davis Biopic. For what part I have no clue, but even if Cheadle didn’t ask Damon to be in the movie, I do hope Cheadle at least talked about the project, provided everyone an update between bites of their delicious meatballs.

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

Dave Brubeck Says Miles Davis Was A Good Basketball Player

Who knew?

“When people think of jazz legend Miles Davis, they invoke his troubled life or his skill with a trumpet. Dave Brubeck, himself a music icon, recalls a different side.

“One day he came to my house, and my kids, when they came home from school, they saw Miles and I playing basketball,” he said. ”They couldn’t believe that.

“Then he went to the punching bag. He liked to box. Did you know that? He was very interested in sports.”

Brubeck, 89, was presented Monday with a special Miles Davis Award by the Montreal International Jazz Festival for his storied career, which includes his invention of a jazz style dubbed West Coast Cool.

Brubeck said he and Davis, who died in 1991, were close friends and toured together.” text by Nelson Wyatt

via Jazz icon Dave Brubeck recalls Miles Davis could handle a basketball well – Winnipeg Free Press.

Miles Davis / The Album Covers

* sessions, imports, singles, reissues, compilations, live recordings…
** mostly just album covers i think look really cool…

Miles Davis / The Sidemen

Wynton Kelly

Miles Davis / The Album Covers

* sessions, imports, singles, reissues, compilations, live recordings…
** mostly just album covers i think look really cool…

A Miles Davis Original Signed 1958 Recording Contract

Miles Davis Original Recording Contract: a two-page agreement on Columbia Records letterhead, dated June 24 1958 — signed by the great jazz trumpeter in blue ink at the second page.

The document engages Miles Davis to record the songs “Django, “The Jitterbug Waltz”,” ‘Round Midnight” and “Wild Man Blues” for Columbia ‘s European affiliate, Phillips, with renowned French composer, Michel Legrand for what would become an acclaimed album, Legrand Jazz. Best known as a film composer and orchestrator, Legrand also had a genuine affinity for jazz, and this recording featured his arrangements played by three, quite large separate ensembles, which included jazz luminaries such as John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Paul Chambers and, of course, Miles Davis, whose solo contributions on the listed songs are among the strongest on the recording.


Miles Davis: All Of You, 1964

* The Miles Davis Movie: Filming the ‘Second Great Quintet’

Play Along With Miles Davis