Happy New Year From Miles Davis Online!


The Miles Davis Movie: Yet Another Very Cool Unofficial Teaser Poster

Earlier this year our talented friend Julien Trédan-Turini designed an awesome teaser poster for the Miles Davis Biopic.

And now, graphic designer Heath Killen delivers a kick-ass design of his own for a teaser poster.

I mentioned the classic Miles pose from the cover of The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions awhile back when discussing movie poster ideas, so it’s a treat to see that concept brought to life via the talented, Australia-based Killen.

I love the burst of color shooting from the trumpet against the simple, yet potent base colors. We have no idea the title of the biopic, but Killen going with ‘Miles’ works great; the use of only the word ‘Miles’ really packs a nice design punch.

Killen’s website features all sorts of terrific designs and illustrations – definitely worth checking out.

Miles Davis 2011: A Look Ahead

Miles Davis Biopic: With a possible release date (according to IMDB) sitting comfortably on the 2013 calendar, it’s no surprise news is fleeting. It didn’t stop me from starting a blog about it in 2008! Boy was I early to the party.

Nevertheless, 2010 closed with an unexpected bang of news about the slow-moving biopic. The Hollywood Reporter’s Shirley Halperin caught up with Don Cheadle who said the script was complete and now they are on the hunt for investor money.

Most importantly, we now have some concrete hope that the project is moving ahead.

But 2011 is expected to be low-key, unless a studio jumps in to pay the tab and a start date is confirmed. Maybe an actor or two sign on, but I’m not hopeful for much action. A script leak would be welcome!

With Cheadle’s busy workload it’s tough to see where the biopic fits in – in the short-term. The Miles Davis Biopic isn’t even listed on his credits, which is strange.

We assume Cheadle is still going to direct the movie as well as play the lead role of the jazz legend. I’ve wondered if Cheadle should not direct and just focus on playing Miles Davis. But I’m on record in my confidence with Cheadle as star and director of the Miles Movie.

Music: In 2010 we had the release of the behemoth box set The Genius of Miles Davis and Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

In his recent article on Miles Davis, Will Layman notes that Erin Davis, Miles’ son, said Davis’ post-comeback music is at Warner Brothers and is being packaged now into another box set.

Vince Wilburn Jr., Miles’ nephew and part of the team with Erin and Cheryl Davis (Miles’ daughter) that operates Miles Davis Properties, said they were going ‘to go into the vault and release some bootlegs.’

You can always count on some type of re-release or re-packaging of a Miles Davis album. 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Someday My Prince Will Come, so perhaps we’ll see something from Columbia. It’s also the big 50th for Steamin’, so perhaps that awesome recording will see an anniversary edition.

We do know that Bitches Brew Live hits stores February 8, while Jazz Legend arrives February 15.

In April we get The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige.

Business: Miles Davis Properties cut licensing deals for a special beer and high-performance headphones in 2011. Where they go in 2011 is a mystery. Wilburn Jr. has said in the past the group turns down 95 percent of the business pitches that hit their desk, so clearly they have a specific idea where they want to take the Miles Davis brand.

“We’re trying not to over-saturate the public,” Wilburn Jr. tells Will Layman, and I applaud him for the licensing restraint. I’d love to see some of the pitches they turn down, but I never would have guessed special beer or headphones as green light business deals.

It must be tough because you don’t want to harm the legacy, but still find ways to push the iconic name and what it represents.

Radio: Not sure why there isn’t 24-hour channel on Sirius/XM already. There was a limited-run last year (Miles Davis Radio), but no word since if a dedicated Miles Davis channel is in the works.

TV: We’re anxious to get a look at The Miles Davis Documentary from Christopher Wilkinson. From what I’ve read the project is headed to HBO.

iPad & iPhone: There should be an App; nothing fussy, but one should be developed. This is an area where Miles Davis Properties could investigate, find a way to enhance social media and technology. I know the headphones can be considered part of the tech market, but an App is all about getting the content right to the user. Accessibility is the key. Connecting with the fans is essential.

The App for Wynton Marsalis is a prime example. It’s free. It’s outstanding. The features include music, videos, photos and live concert streaming. A fan of Miles Davis would love this type of new media on his or her iPhone (and iPad).

On a side note, I still think Jazz Hero: Miles Davis could be awesome. Can we get that going somehow, someway?

Books: “Miles: The Companion Guide To The Miles Davis Autobiography” will be released February 2011. Written by DJ Antomattei, the book functions like an annotated sequencing companion guide to Miles’ original autobiography.

Also in February look for “The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68.” Using transcription and analysis, author Keith Waters illuminates the compositional, improvisational, and collective achievements of the Second Great Quintet.

We Want Miles: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts produced a wonderful exhibit this year – “We Want Miles”: Miles Davis vs. Jazz. Prior to that, the exhibition was staged at the Musee de la Musique, a part of the Cite de la Musique complex, in Paris, France.

The multimedia retrospective was a big success in both cities, a superb combination of image and sound to offer visitors a look into the life and career of Miles Davis.

There were rumors of bringing the exhibition to San Francisco, but nothing has been confirmed. The Miles Davis Estate might already be in the planning stages, but I think we’ll see the expo play a few more cities in 2011; it’d be a shame if more people are not given the opportunity to see the exhibition.

Style: I usually defer to my friend Christian Chensvold at the always excellent Ivy Style on matters of style, especially where Miles Davis and fashion is concerned.

But I can almost guarantee there will be a at least one blog post, website feature or magazine article somewhere in the world in 2011 detailing the fine style (regardless of era!) of Miles Davis. Posting/Publishing cool photos of Miles Davis and writing about it never gets old.

Art: The Artist Series has been a real treat for me to curate. The art and photography I have encountered – with a Miles Davis spin – has been nothing short of amazing. We have plenty more entries lined up for 2011, and I am excited about the prospect of finding new artwork and photos of Miles Davis from all those immensely talented artists.

Miles Davis’ last remaining 100 original drawings and oil paintings showcased at Gallery 27 in London this month. I hope to see the exhibition find its way to the states in 2011.

Digital Media: The official website made the jump to Sony in 2010. The original did not function properly on numerous levels and the Sony team has outfitted MilesDavis.com with a better design and content features. But compared with the official websites for Frank Sinatra (a fellow music icon) and Wynton Marsalis– two excellent examples – the official hub for Miles Davis is definitely a few steps behind.

Like I mentioned with the need for an iPhone/iPad App, accessibility is vital – connecting with the fans is essential. Surely the estate has enough content to throw at an App, or on the website. You put an old Miles Davis concert streaming online and I’ll click over right this second from MDO to the official website.

Their website is not terrible! It’s not without merit. But I’m trying not to be too critical because around here we like to think of ourselves as the ‘unofficial’ official web axis for All Things Miles Davis. What I lack in access to the vaults of priceless photos, music and memorabilia, I more than make up for with passion and energy, a happy desire to curate a daily conversation about Miles Davis and appreciation of a remarkable career.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see the other site do well.

What the (clearing my throat) official site needs is an emphasis on web content. They have a nice library of MP3s, but so does iTunes, so big deal. But iTunes doesn’t have tons of Davis’ music in the vault. The official site should release an exclusive, rare track every now and then, which would really get folks excited. Just release a clip of Miles chatting in the studio – that alone would be great!

The merchandise is nice, the artwork is great if you can afford it and there is a decent stream of news, but there’s no ‘voice’ to the operation, no soul. The website is part of a corporate framework, which no doubt is serviceable, but you’re not going to get the passion, just the basics. The good news is that there are many options for building a superb digital play on the ‘net.

If it happens, great, if not, Miles Davis Online rolls merrily along: we might not be the ‘Official’ Miles Davis website, but we sure as hell are going to be the ‘Best.’

© Francis Wolff

Have A Very Merry Miles Davis Christmas

© Roberto Polillo

Let Them Eat Miles Davis Birthday Cake!

Here’s something I missed earlier this year. East St. Louis Mayor Alvin L. Parks threw a party to commemorate the 84th birthday of Miles Dewey Davis III.

The event, which took place in Parks’ office, honored the jazz legend and paid tribute to the role the city played during his formative years. Davis was born in Alton but grew up in East St. Louis, where he attended Lincoln High School and played in its band. Some of Davis’ classmates, as well as several generations of East St. Louis citizens, attended the gathering.

Standing before a sheet cake emblazoned with a picture of Bitches Brew-era Miles, Parks welcomed the crowd and commented on the legacy left by Davis, who died in 1991. “Though he is no longer with us in person, we certainly know that his spirit lives with us,” Parks said. “One of the reasons that East St. Louis is so strongly known for music is that Miles Davis hails from East St. Louis, Illinois.

“So we say not only happy birthday to Miles Davis today, but thank you, Miles Davis, for putting East St. Louis even further on the map and making this known as a place that you can say, ‘We know music, we know arts, we know artistic expression because Miles Davis blew his horn first in East St. Louis, Illinois.'”

A three-piece jazz combo, led by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville faculty member Reggie Thomas, played a selection of Davis’ better-known tunes, starting with the Kind of Blue classic “Freddie Freeloader.” Trumpeter Brady Lewis, a sophomore at East St. Louis Senior High School, was tasked with taking Miles’ role and did a fine job; he even faithfully recreated the original trumpet solo.

Miles Davis At The 18th Pct., 1970

I look at a lot of Miles Davis photos. There are some on the internet I have scanned hundreds of times; there’s tons of amazing photographs of the jazz legend online, but after awhile you start seeing the same images over and over.

Fans of Miles are lucky because between stock agencies like Getty Images, photo sharing portals like Flickr, web content w/ accompanying images from newspapers, blogs and magazines and just casual fan uploads, we have a wealth of pictures to sift through and enjoy.

But I often wish someone would just dump a hundred new, never-before-seen photos on the web for me to discover.

Still, every now and then a new one drops in front of me.

I stumbled across a Charles Ruppmann retrospective on the NY Daily News’ website. It’s called ’50 Years / 50 Photographs’ and chronicles, rather nicely, 50 images spanning the 50 year career of Daily News photographer Charles Ruppman.

Included in the 50 is a terrific photo of Miles Davis; the circumstances for the jazz legend were not so great at that particular time in 1970, but the photograph is awesome.

1970: Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis at the 18th Pct. Davis was arrested and booked for driving his $17,000 red Ferrari sports coupe without an inspection sticker, driver’s license and registration. He was also charged with possession of brass knuckles.

Does he not look annoyed as hell?!

Credits: Ruppmann/News

Better Miles Davis Album: Kind of Blue vs. Bitches Brew

They are both legendary, so really it’s a wash. The more traditional jazz listener might lean towards “Kind of Blue”, but “Bitches Brew” is no less thrilling in its own right.

Writer/jazz critic Will Layman kindly helped me find this fine debate on wnyc.org between he and Ashley Kahn that puts the iconic “Kind of Blue” (1959) against the genre-bending “Bitches Brew” (1970) in a discussion about which is best.

Layman carries the flag for ‘Brew,’ while Kahn takes up the fight for ‘Blue.’

Both are ‘best,’ as I will happily cop-out by stating, but the debate between Kahn and Layman brings to light some excellent points and interesting notes about both, truly classic albums.

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The Miles Davis Movie: Should Don Cheadle Be Working On This Pose?

What? It’s a legitimate question. It’s a classic image of Miles Davis; leg slung over the folding chair, cigarette in hand and contemplating lord knows what…

About the biopic, Don Cheadle promises a movie that’s “on the edge and feels a little bit dangerous.”

This photo is dangerous!

The Miles Davis Movie: Script Ready, Now It’s About The Money

The Hollywood Reporter’s Shirley Halperin has a nice, detailed update on the Miles Davis Biopic.

“We just turned in the script and we’re going to find some money to make this thing,” Cheadle told The Hollywood Reporter at a party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Bitches Brew.”

“Now is a good time, 10 years ago would have been a good time, and 10 years from now it will still be a good time to see a dynamic, entertaining movie that’s wall-to-wall Miles Davis where the music will hopefully spark some desire to know more about the man.”

Steven Baigelman is handling script duties; he took over the writing reins after it apparently didn’t work out with the writing duo of Chris Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele.

The great Herbie Hancock is already aboard to score the Miles Davis Biopic.

Cheadle adds: “We’re trying to do what Miles Davis would have wanted us to do, which is approach it as artists with his life as the canvas.”

Halperin writes that there’s extra pressure for Cheadle, ‘who’s not just a friend to Davis’ son Erin and the estate, but a diehard fan.’

“We’re trying to do what Miles Davis would have wanted us to do, which is approach it as artists with his life as the canvas,” he said. “In being successful, some people say he sold out, but it’s the opposite. You can stay in one place forever and try to make the same money from the same core fans, but saying to your audience, ‘I’m going here now, come along or don’t,’ that’s brave, risky and dangerous. That’s what he did, and that’s what we’re trying to honor in this story — that kind of spirit.”

Cheadle is ‘promising a movie that’s “on the edge and feels a little bit dangerous.”

“I think audiences are really sophisticated now and can understand that this is the kind of story that flips the biography on its head.”

Halperin writes that Cheadle and Co. are now hoping ‘studios both major and indie will appreciate the need to recognize the legendary musician with an atypical biopic.

“Atypical” is the key here. Do the people want something like “Ray,” or do they prefer a more avant-garde style in the how the story of the jazz legend is told on screen?

Cheadle had previously said in a chat with Vibe.com that the biopic is “all about his life but it’s not specific facts, those are irrelevant.” To which we asked what ‘specific facts’ about Miles Davis Cheadle considers irrelevant.

In the end, economics might provide the final decision on how the biopic is produced. Miles Davis was complex, but that doesn’t mean a biopic about his life has to be.

Either way, it’s really great to hear from Cheadle about the Miles Davis Movie. Happy to see it’s full steam ahead!

* More links about the Miles Davis Movie:

What Should The Movie Title Be?

What Songs Should Be Featured In The Biopic?

PG-13 or Rated R?

The Betty Year

Finding The Voice

Unofficial Teaser Poster Should Be Official!

Who is going to play John Coltrane?

…And Then Miles Davis Played On That Toto Song In The ’80s

No idea! And I even like Toto.

Miles Davis really shines on this track from Toto’s “Fahrenheit” album from 1986. You can also catch Miles playing the song live on the “Complete Miles Davis At Montreux 1973-1991” box set.

I found some interesting notes about how Miles connected with the band from Toto guitarist Steve Lukather’s website. Here’s one of many (many) great comments I pulled from an interview Steve did with TheLastMiles.com about the song and the Toto/Miles Davis connection.

We had the music, so we ran it down together with him and he was kind of playing around the melody – he wasn’t really playing the melody.

So we figured, we’re not going to tell Miles Davis what to play, so we said, “Miles, we have a take of this, would you mind just giving it a listen and play whatever you want?” He says “Okay, I’ll play like that. You like that old shit right?” So he gets out the Harmon mute and he played it down – one take. We’re all stood there completely freaked out – it was unbelievable. At the end, the song just kind of fades out, but he just kept playing the blues. I was sitting there with chicken skin on my arms – it was unbelievable moment.

Here’s the LINK to the complete interview. There is some awesome commentary from Steve about meeting Miles and working with the jazz legend.

Hey, What’s Don Cheadle Doing?*

don-style Via Deadline.com

Academy Award-nominated actor Don Cheadle has signed on to star in the pilot for HOUSE OF LIES, a half-hour, dark comedy created and written by Matthew Carnahan (Dirt) from the hit tell-all book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn, which will go into production in February 2011 in Los Angeles, CA. Jessica Borsicsky (Flash Forward) will serve as executive producer, and Emmy winner Stephen Hopkins will direct.

HOUSE OF LIES is a subversive, scathing look at a self-loathing management consultant from a top-tier firm. Cheadle will star as Marty, a highly successful, cutthroat consultant who is never above using any means (or anyone) necessary to get his clients the information they want.

This sounds like a terrific project. But this is yet one more roadblock in the development of the Miles Davis Biopic.

Have I ever heard of multitasking? Yes, and I have every confidence Cheadle can act in this show (and other films) and still develop the biopic. I could not be happier for Cheadle, because the guy is a sensational actor, but somehow I get the feeling the Miles Davis project is slipping further down the priority list – and that’s just a personal feeling. As I like to make clear on matters about the biopic: I know nothing.

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

Miles Davis Christmas Gift Guide!

Miles Davis – “The Genius of Miles Davis”
Get it here!

We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz
Written by Vincent Bessieres and Franck Bergerot
Get it here or here or here!

Miles Davis : Bitches Brew (40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition)
Get it here!

Miles Davis Promo Print
Get it here!

Bitches Brew T-Shirt
Get it here!

Miles Davis handcrafted Tissue Box Cover made from a vintage album
Get it here!

Miles Davis – set of 6 note cards
Get it here!

Miles Davis Portrait: 12 inch square. Arrives gallery wrapped and ready to hang on your wall.
Get it here!

Miles Davis / Prince of Darkness iPad Case
Get it here!

Art: Miles Davis’s Last Addiction

‘It’s like therapy for me, and it keeps my mind occupied with something when I’m not playing music,’ the jazz great explained of his other splurge of artistic talent.

via Art – Miles Davis’s last addiction | The Guardian

I Think We Could All Use “a bit more Miles Davis”

Interesting business story on BusinessJournalism.org about Miles Davis and the effectiveness of his longtime association with the notion of ‘cool.’

Alan Deutschman’s article finds him at the Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York. During a tour of the kitchen, he notices a large photograph of Miles Davis.

It turned out that four years earlier, a critic from the New York Observer, Moira Hodgson, had mentioned the trumpeter in her review, Madison Avenue Makeover: Star Chef Gives New Personality, which appeared soon after the 29-year-old Daniel Humm had taken over as chef. Hodgson had awarded Eleven Madison Park an impressive three and a half stars out of a possible four, but she added that the restaurant could use “a bit more Miles Davis.”

That’s about as totally vague and totally spot-on as it gets in one statement about Miles Davis.

The team at Eleven Madison Park used the article as an inspiration. What followed was a crash course in All Things Miles Davis; they compiled a list of words ‘that were often used to describe what had made him great over the several decades of his prolific career.’

Here’s the list, which they inscribed on the kitchen wall in big lettering covering from ceiling to floor:

* Cool
* Endless Reinvention
* Forward Moving
* Inspired
* Fresh
* Collaborative
* Spontaneous
* Vibrant
* Adventurous
* Light
* Innovative

Eleven Madison Park did finally receive that 4-star rating from the New York Times in August 2009.

Miles Davis, Savior of Businesses

Miles Davis Play In The Works; Q-Tip In The Lead Role

We might be seeing ‘Miles Davis‘ onstage long before we see his story on screen.

This item actually hit the airwaves back in September, but we’re happy to dive in a few months late.

In an interview with XXL, hip-hop star/actor Q-Tip reveals that he’s working on a play with author and filmmaker Nelson George about Miles Davis.

And he’s set to play the lead role.

Are you nervous?

Nah, not really, because I relate to him. But I was a lil nervous at first.

But we’ve already done some table readings and Miles’ nephew, and some of his really close friends that he knew for many years—a girlfriend of two—and some of his old band mates have checked out the table reading like, “Oh, shit, they nailed it.” So that made it easier for me. It let me know my instincts are right.

It’s be nice to know if the play is centered on a particular event in Miles’ life, or a broader reading of his career and personal life.

Q-Tip goes on to say that the project with George looks “pretty promising,” so hopefully they can get their play on a theater stage sometime soon.

Besides the Miles Davis play, Q-Tip shows up on the latest Kanye West album, is currently wrapping up his untitled fourth studio album and working with Martin Scorsese producer Barbara De Fina on a film for his next record.

George’s next novel, a noir tale set in the world of hip hop, will be published in fall 2011.

Last year we talked about about another Miles Davis-inspired play titled Seven Days: a Fantasia on the Life of Miles Davis. The play, written by Greg Machlin, was then playing at the UI Theatre Building on the campus of Iowa University.

The play follows a seven-day stint in 1954 during which Miles Davis returns to Illinois to try to kick his heroin addiction. The narrative bounces between events leading up to his addiction and after he quits. While the events are as accurate as possible, the play is presented as ‘an imaginative examination of a musical genius.’