The Miles Davis Online Interview: Tobias Hall


(Artist Series II, Volume 1)

We begin the second collection of the Artist Series with the wonderfully talented Tobias Hall, an illustrator/designer/muralist based in London.

Among his exciting collection of artwork is a fantastic Miles Davis illustration (above). You can also view an absolutely gorgeous mural here featuring Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson and Max Roach. Other murals created by Hall include a superb Nina Simone located in a South London bedroom, and an outstanding Winston Churchill created for a Zizzi restaurant in South Woodford.

Speaking of Zizzi Ristorante, Hall has been working closely with the popular eatery as part of the design team, lending a creative hand with everything from photography to graphic design and art direction.

Besides the Miles Davis, other personal favorites in Hall’s collection includes the Roger Federer, the Lionel Messi, and his David Bowie-inspired murals and painted tables completed for Zizzi in David Bowie’s home town of Beckenham. Hall’s art prints are also available for purchase. Click here to have a look.

As a new fan of Hall’s work, I was determined to track down the artist and ask him as few questions about Miles Davis, his creative process, and what’s next.

Miles Davis Online: You feature such a wonderful variety of designs and illustrations. And in the middle of it all – Miles Davis. What led you to creating the artwork Miles Davis – Kind of Blue?
Tobias Hall: I’ve got a pretty big passion for music of all sorts, and it’s a real ambition of mine to create art to go alongside it, be that in the form of gig posters, album art, whatever. I started getting into Jazz and Blues in a big way towards the end of university, so the first Miles Davis piece was really just a natural response to that.

Miles Davis Online: And what exactly is the creative process behind this type of illustration?
Tobias Hall: It all starts with the music itself really, it’s always playing whenever I work. Once I have a general idea of composition/concept it’s just a case of drawing out the separate elements by hand, then layering, colouring and texturing them in Photoshop.

Miles Davis Online: As for the wonderful Jazz Legends mural: was Miles Davis always in your vision to be part of the mural design? Also, how long did the process take to complete?
Tobias Hall: The mural was created for a restaurant in sunny Croydon, London. They often hold nights of live jazz music, so I thought it would be cool to depict some of Jazz’s most famous faces. A Jazz ‘super band’ if you like. Naturally, Miles had to be a part of it. The mural took around a day and a half to paint.

Miles Davis Online: Who are some artists of the past and present that have inspired you?
Tobias Hall: The two main artists to have influenced my work are Keith Haring and David Foldvari. It’s a funny one, because stylistically the two are very different, but both have inspired me in equal measure.

Miles Davis Online: Are you working on anything special at the moment?
Tobias Hall: I have just finished some album artwork for Canadian folk musician Del Barber, who’s album is released on the 1st May, and there is talk of a huge music-themed mural project for a hotel in the pipeline, but that hasn’t been confirmed as of yet. I spend most of my days as an in-house illustrator/designer for a restaurant chain here in the UK, working on everything from menus to photography or art direction. It’s good fun.

Miles Davis Online: Might you revisit Miles Davis in your work?
Tobias Hall: No doubt. Jazz music as a whole continues to influence my practice, and with Miles being such an enigmatic fellow, I’m sure I’m bound to explore him and his music a bit more in the future.

Miles Davis Online: Favorite Miles Davis album?
Tobias Hall: Round About Midnight.

© Tobias Hall. All artwork, and images of artwork are property of Tobias Hall. All rights reserved.

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Miles Davis Jazz Festival Set For May 19

The seventh annual Miles Davis Jazz Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at 5:00 p.m on the campus of Lewis and Clark Community College in the Trimpe Building. Four bands will pay homage to the iconic stature of Miles Davis. Saxophonist Fred Walker, vocalist Danita Mumphord, trumpeter Jim Manley and from St. Louis, the Soulard Blues Band have been booked for this special evening of entertainment.

Event organizers are anticipating community support to make this a concert not to be missed. “We have a variety of musicians that we hope will encourage people to attend, ” said Lee Barham, event chairman. “Miles Davis was known for not being shy and stretching the boundaries of his talent. We believe we’ve assembled a diversity of bands that will appeal to area music lovers.”

The concert in past years has been the occasion to offer a $250 jazz scholarship to a deserving student. This year the committee is granting two scholarships so there’s an increased excitement. “For two years we’ve given one scholarship each year. We wanted to contribute more than we’ve had in the past, so we’ve upped our commitment and will present two scholarships at this year’s event, ” Barham added.

Via Jazz News

* The official website has not yet been updated.

It’s Miles Davis Up Close And Personal In New Blog Series

For any fan of Miles Davis, I highly recommend checking out The Miles Files from CBC Music.

Produced for CBC Radio 2’s Tonic, and CBC Music’s jazz department, The Miles Files is designed to…

…paint Davis in a new light by putting you into the shoes of what it might have felt like to be the legend. Just like you, Davis was a kid, then a teenager, a student, a youngster, a dreamer, a wannabe and an achiever.

His life had light and dark. It also had shadows. The Miles Files imagines you right there with Davis, and even as Davis while he embarks on an incredible, day-by-day journey as just a regular guy finding his way.

The debut post is titled Miles Davis’ First Teacher, which was just followed up with part 2, When Bebop Came To Town.

The posts are short, to the point, and pack a lot of great information about the jazz legend. Both have been written by talented jazz vocalists/host of Tonic (CBC Radio 2) Tim Tamashiro.

Up next: ‘the Juilliard scam.’ 

This is a terrific idea all around, and I will definitely be following the series.

Miles Davis | Around The Web

A Weekly Round-Up Of Miles Davis News & Notes

1. Rats on cocaine love Miles Davis, and other dumb animal research paid for with tax dollars

The research found that sober rats don’t really like music that much. After the silence, the rats liked Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” more than Miles Davis’s iconic jazz tune “Four.” But when the rats were given doses of cocaine, their tasted shifted and they gravitated toward the jazz. [nydailynews.com]

2. Miles Davis and Steve McQueen

Undeniably simple, undeniably cool. [Tomorrow Started]

3. Hidden Gems: Miles Davis’ “Dark Magus”

There are loud peaks and quiet valleys on Dark Magus, but there’s always something going on. [Magnet Magazine]

4. Brazilian jazz sorcerer incorporates range of instruments

Slowly but surely, Hermeto Pascoal gained fame in his native Brazil by releasing several albums, according to the Hopkins Center’s program notes. His big break, however, came in 1971 when he appeared on Miles Davis’ album “Live Evil.” To this day, Pascoal reveres Davis as a godlike figure.

“Miles Davis is an eternal human being — he was and is,” Pascoal said. [The Dartmouth]

5. A Hidden Gem on the Greatest Jazz Album of All Time

Anyway, blah blah jazz blah. I want to tell you about the hidden gem of Kind of Blue, the track that I used to never, ever listen to, but is now my favorite. I’m talking about the last track on the album, “Flamenco Sketches.” [kotaku.com]

Miles Davis Online Celebrates Debut Collection Of Artist Series

Since debuting Miles Davis Online in 2009, I have featured 20 extremely talented people in the Artist Series. It has been an absolute joy discovering these artists, exploring their terrific work, and getting to know them as well. The opportunity to showcase their Miles Davis-inspired artwork and photographs has been a great pleasure of mine. Their work certainly makes this place look a lot better!

I look back at the photographs, designs, and paintings, and I marvel at the talent. It’s inspiring. Of course I only focused on the Miles Davis artwork, but these photographers, designers, and painters each have collections that are well-worth visiting online at their official websites.

I’m excited to begin the next volume of artist interviews, which kicks off next week. I will continue my search for artwork inspired by Miles Davis – abstract, portrait, photographs, pencil sketches, and whatever else is out there being created by talented individuals who are artistic… and just so happen to have a love for Miles Davis.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to be part of the first volume in the Artist Series. Discovering your work has been a special treat.

Miles Davis Online Artist Series: Volume 1-20

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The Miles Davis Biopic: A Day In The Life Of Miles Davis

Don Cheadle recently discussed the status of the Miles Davis Biopic in an interview with Collider.com. For me, the highlight of his comments was describing the film as taking place “over a day and a half of his life — a very intense day and a half of his life…”

We’ve known for awhile now the film was going to eschew the usual Hollywood blueprint for biopics (see: Ray), but it’s only now we finally have a firm grasp on the narrative Cheadle has chosen.

Cheadle rams home this point declaring the project is “not a biopic,” so now is a good time for me to stop worrying about the possibility of a cradle-to-grave biopic — because that is not happening. I guess I can also stop calling it the Miles Davis Biopic.

Did I think the first Miles Davis film project to eventually make it into movie theaters would center around an intense, 36-hour moment in his life? No, but my excitement about the endeavor remains steadfast.

But if there’s one thing I’d love to know from Cheadle is what day (and a half), exactly, are we talking about? Is this a real day in the life of Miles Davis, or a day developed purely for film?

And if it is an actual day, just when in the Miles Davis timeline are we talking about?

Is this young Miles? Old Miles? Jazz-fusion Miles? Kicking the drug habit Miles? Recording Kind of Blue Miles?

What’s curious about Cheadle’s comments is that he describes the project as “not deep” and “not serious fare,” yet the day and a half of Davis’ life Cheadle wants to focus on is described as “very intense.”

I might be making it too complicated for my own good. Without actually reading the script I’m just as out of the loop as anyone not associated with the project. Still, I would really… really like to know what day (and a half) they have in mind.

Another aspect of the day and a half framework is how the music of Miles Davis fits in. For awhile now the music rights have reportedly been secured for the film, arguably the most vital ingredient in making any film about Miles Davis.

I think we all know the music will be there, the question is will we see Don Cheadle as Miles Davis playing the music? I cannot imagine this film not featuring performance scenes, be it just Miles in the studio, or on stage in some smoky club.

Screenwriter Steven Baigelman and Cheadle could have easily inserted flashbacks into the script to incorporate more scenes of Miles Davis performing, but we shall see.

Everyone wants something different from a film about Miles Davis, but watching Cheadle portraying the jazz legend while playing the trumpet is one of them.

Biopic, not-a-biopic, or whatever Cheadle and Co. have in mind for the movie is a project I am eagerly awaiting. But because this film focuses solely on one day in the life of the jazz icon, this means the door remains wide open for a director, actor, or studio to jump in and produce yet another movie about Miles Davis – this time along the lines of a traditional biopic.

Where Was Miles Davis On That ‘Great Day in Harlem’?

great-day-in-harlemArt Kane’s legendary photograph A Great Day In Harlem is one of my favorite images; a single snapshot of jazz history.

Often times, when I look over the faces of all those jazz greats who gathered on that August day in 1958, I wonder, “Hey! Where’s Miles Davis?”

I was reminded of my curiosity after reading Ian Patterson’s terrific retrospective of the classic, black and white group portrait of jazz musicians.

Patterson notes the prominent names of jazz legends that were not in attendance on 126th street in uptown Harlem for the photo shoot, resulting in an interesting sub-plot to the actual events of the Art Kane photo shoot.

Along with Davis, big names like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald (among others) were also not in attendance.

Patterson writes –

“All those absent giants of jazz, and others too numerous mention, are nonetheless felt somehow to be present—represented by musicians who played with them, and who inspired and were inspired by them. Like with any family reunion, its absent members are with us in spirit.”

But Miles Davis, where was he?

I was lucky enough to speak with Patterson and ask about his theory on Miles’ absence.

“I don’t know where Miles was that day,” says Patterson, “but as none of his usual sidemen around that time (Cannonball, Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe) were in the picture it is quite likely he was out of town with his group that day.”

He added, “I do tend to think that even had he been in town he wouldn’t have been too bothered to turn up for the photo shoot. I don’t think it was his style at all.”

And let’s not forget the shoot took place at 10am – not exactly prime time for jazz musicians, many of whom had probably just gone to bed a few hours earlier after a long night of playing. Then again, some of the musicians might have just gone straight from the gig to the photo shoot.

It’s an interesting parlor game to think about where Miles, Ellington, Coltrane and the other no-shows would be located in the famous photograph.

Looking at the photo now, I wonder where Miles would have been positioned for the photo; would he be front and center with Stuff Smith and Coleman Hawkins, or perhaps he’d rather be off to the (right) side, mingling with fellow trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge.

Or maybe he walks up, checks the scene and decides to hell with it and goes home.

Continue reading “Where Was Miles Davis On That ‘Great Day in Harlem’?”

Miles Davis + Bitches Brew Style Skate Decks = Very Cool

These are so kick-ass. I would put them right beside Western Edition’s equally awesome Miles 59′ Quintet series.

The Bitches Brew collection is limited to 100 sets of four decks each, and is a part of Western Edition’s Spring/Summer 2012 line.

via Western Edition Skateboarding:

It is beyond rare when a collaboration presents such a meaningful display of each others passions, talents, and legacies in a form so natural and yet so surprisingly distinct.

Commissioned by Miles Davis for his landmark album “Bitches Brew”, inspired artist Mati Klarwein created this painting for the album’s cover. With the support of Klarwein’s family, led by his son Balthazar who happens to be a respectable skater, Western Edition is proud to introduce “The Bitches Brew” capsule collection.

The highlight of the collection includes a four deck series integration of the album’s cover art. The symmetry of the painting is displayed by having both top and bottom graphics on each deck, the light portion on the bottom and the corresponding dark portion on the top. Please visit Mati Klarwein’s new website (www.matiklarweinart.com) to see the full spectrum of the artist’s portfolio and a biography.

Today In Miles Davis Movie News…

nothing

I have not posted one of these in awhile. But it had to be done. A few months ago we had a nice flurry of info provided by Don Cheadle, who noted that they had a studio offer. But he has not elaborated.

And so we wait….

Miles Davis Vs. Chuck Berry For Best St. Louis Musician of All Time

It’s an epic showdown between two icons of music as Miles Davis and Chuck Berry battle for the title of Best St. Louis Musician of All Time.

Put together by St. Louis Magazine, the fifth and final round is underway. Be sure to vote here; the winner will be announced April 23.

Miles Davis dispatched Clark Terry, Willie Akins, Albert King, and Scott Joplin on his way to the final, while Chuck Berry had to face-off against Ike and Tina Turner, Michael McDonald, Uncle Tupelo, and Willa Mae Ford Smith to reach the championship round.

St. Louis has clearly produced a lot of amazing musicians, but this is the final that had to happen. No offense to Nelly, but there is no way he is getting out of the Elite Eight against Scott Joplin to face Miles. It was nice to see Uncle Tupelo make a run before bowing out to Chuck Berry.

In the end, both Chuck Berry and Miles Davis are worthy of the title.

I really like Chuck Berry, but I love Miles Davis, so I’ll give the nod to the jazz legend in the championship final.

A Good Miles Davis Story….

Los Angeles-based restaurateur Brad Johnson and the popular Chef Govind Armstrong recently opened Post & Beam at the Crenshaw Plaza in Baldwin Hills. Post & Beam, named for the mid-century design history of the neighborhood, is already a must-visit for California comfort food.

Over at the Post & Beam’s official website, Johnson carved out a little space for himself called The Corner Table to write about his thoughts and experiences from a longtime restaurateur’s point of view.

Well wouldn’t you know it, but Johnson just posted a terrific story about meeting Miles Davis in the early 80s at The Cellar in New York City, a popular restaurant on the Upper Westside of Manhattan owned by his father, Howard Johnson.

I heard Miles loved the fried chicken at The Cellar but on this night it didn’t appear as though Miles came to eat. I made my way over to him and eagerly introduced myself sticking out my hand “Miles, hey, I’m Brad Johnson, Howard Johnson’s son!” Miles barely looked at me and while removing the cigarette from his lips, allowed me to help him out of his dark colored long coat. Excitedly I removed Miles coat from his slender frame and hustled off to put it safely in the office.

Read the whole story here. I highly recommend!

Then, if you are in the Los Angeles area, or plan to be soon – by all means stop by Post & Beam to eat. I think I left L.A. too soon, because the Boneless Beef Short Ribs are calling my name!

The Miles Davis Online Interview: Pieter Boersma


(Artist Series Volume 20)

I have a personal Top Ten list of my favorite Miles Davis photographs. It changes now and then, depending on new photos I might stumble upon. I have a new entry for the top ten, not sure where, but it’s in there.

It’s actually the above photo, shot by the talented photographer Pieter Boersma. A true professional, the Amsterdam-based Boersma has a long and distinguished career photographing everything from Amsterdam history, experimental music, theater, and jazz, to urban landscapes, citizens movements, development policy in Southern African countries, and much more.

I invite everyone to check out the Jazz Collection, which is quite fantastic.

Boersma was kind enough to indulge me for a brief chat about his work and his photos of Miles Davis – an artist he really didn’t bother to follow after 1963. This is our 20th installment of the Artist Series, and I am pleased to celebrate the Miles Davis Online milestone by publishing two of Pieter Boersma’s wonderful photos of Miles Davis, along with his comments.

Miles Davis Online: You feature many wonderful musicians in your collection. Would you say there is something unique about jazz musicians that make them compelling subjects to photograph?
Pieter Boersma: Of all musicians, jazz musicians show more intensity and are less static. It is the desperate attempt of the photographer to grab the music that produces so many jazz pictures, and it is always a failure, at least one grab the atmosphere.

Miles Davis Online: Can you provide a little background on the two beautiful photos of Miles Davis taken at the 1967 De Doelen show in Rotterdam?
Pieter Boersma: It was a so-called Newport Jazz Festival concert. I came in fact for Archie Shepp. Miles played after the pause. There is nothing more to say then I was there anyway. I didn’t buy records of Miles in that time. As I told you, I like Miles very much until 1963 or so. My interest in jazz went more in the direction of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, [Eric] Dolphy, Coltrane, Shepp, and the free jazz developments in Europe.

Miles Davis Online: You also feature two terrific photos of Miles from 1969, also taken at a De Doelen show.
Pieter Boersma: This was also a NJF concert, and I came for Cecil Taylor.

Miles Davis Online: Would you like to have worked with him more – perhaps away from the stage and more personal?
Pieter Boersma: Of course I should like to photograph him off stage, he is one of the most important jazz musicians ever.

Miles Davis Online: Even from the stage, were you able to get a good sense of what kind of person he was just by shooting photos of him performing?
Pieter Boersma: No not at all. He was, as far as I know, a very introverted person, just doing his job.

Miles Davis Online: What are you working on now?
Pieter Boersma: Working on my archive. Jazz is about 10% of my archive. I did make jazz photo’s because I love the music and I went to concerts anyway… and photography is an ultimate way of time passing. It was and is impossible to earn a living from Jazz photography.

Miles Davis Online: Favorite Miles Davis album?
Pieter Boersma: Blue Moods, 1955.

© 2012, Pieter Boersma. All artwork, and images of artwork are property of Pieter Boersma. All rights reserved.

The Miles Davis Chapter Should Be Interesting: Herbie Hancock Has Book Deal For Memoir

Via Wall Street Journal:

He also promises plenty of stories about music, including one about touring with Davis in the 1960s. They were playing in Europe and were having an especially good night, the audience rapt.

“And just as Miles was about to start his solo for ‘So What,’ at the peak of the concert, I hit a note that was so wrong I thought I had crumbled the show down like a falling tent,” he recalled.

“And Miles took a breath, and played some notes that made my note right. It took me years to understand that Miles didn’t judge what I played. He worked with it. That lesson wasn’t just about music. It was about life.”

Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra: Similar Greatness

From checking out various articles and books, I am aware that Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra had met over the years. How friendly they were with one another I have no clue, but no doubt there was mutual respect.

I continue trying to locate a photograph of the two icons together.

The musical and cultural parallels between Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra are interesting subjects to explore. I would invite anyone to jump further into this discussion by checking out a terrific web article from Jon Wertheim.

Wertheim, a jazz critic who writes at his personal website and sometimes at Nextbop.com, writes of the Sinatra-Davis connection:

The parallels exist in lifestyle and music. Both created a marketable image that listeners wanted to be a part of – Frank, the fabulously wealthy California playboy, and Miles, the fabulously wealthy new black celebrity – and both took advantage of the microphone as a way to communicate intimately with the audience.

They also realized the importance of not only a signature look and manner but also a signature sound – the fact that their personal sound stayed constant was highlighted and accentuated by long periods of constant accompaniment, Miles with his great quintets/sextet and Frank with his long-term arrangers, especially Billy May and Nelson Riddle.

So while I continue to track down a photo of Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra, read Jon Wertheim’s Frank Sinatra And Miles Davis about what is a fascinating musical parallel between two titans of music and culture.

Miles Davis Part Of Showcase Of Illustrated Portraits

Not really ‘new’, but still worth mentioning considering the terrific illustrations – especially Jorge Arevalo’s Miles Davis artwork.

via Brain Pickings / Maria Popova

Illustration Now! Portraits is a stunning new showcase of illustrated portraits by over 80 of the world’s most exciting artists, culled from Taschen‘s previously published Illustration Now! volumes, in addition to exclusive and unpublished work.

The lavish 400-page tome spans a remarkable range of media, from ink and watercolor to collage to digital illustration, and covers a wide spectrum of styles, from the minimalist to the hyper-realistic to the grotesque and beyond.

© Jorge Arevalo