‘Miles Ahead’ Lands At Sony Classics

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to Miles Ahead, the Miles Davis biopic starring Don Cheadle who makes his directorial debut on the movie. The pic tells the story of a few lost days in the life of the trumpet icon as he bursts out of his silent period, conspires with a Rolling Stone writer (Ewan McGregor) to steal back his music, and relives the years he had with his great love Frances Taylor.

The film is premiering October 11 as the closing-night selection at the New York Film Festival. SPC did not offer up a release date yet though it it certain to get a prime awards-season slot.

Via Deadline

* I have been covering the story of the Miles Davis Movie since 2008, so this is news that is long-overdue – and rather exciting. One step closer to the big screen.

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MilesDavis.com Gets A Much-Needed, Long Overdue Redesign

The official website for Miles Davis finally gets a long-overdue redesign that delivers the proper online platform to help bolster the digital aspirations of the Miles Davis Brand, all the while presenting the fans a nice portal to learn about the jazz icon.

The new website still lacks a ‘voice’ behind the content to link together the news, the community, and the opinion that surrounds the jazz legend. But the new MilesDavis.com is a massive leap forward for the digital side of the Miles Davis brand, especially for the fans.

MilesDavis.com might lack a few of the subtle design and content features of a Sinatra.com, for example, but as far as corporate official websites go, the newly redesigned MilesDavis.com is a huge improvement to what Sony/Legacy had previously offered since taking over the digital operations from the Miles Davsi Estate many years back.

From a purely aesthetic angle, the new website is a major league upgrade from the design mess that preceded it. It’s much easier to navigate, much more focused on how readers connect with the various content. The decision to move to the WordPress platform was a wise one, and the theme they chose to publish with is solid.

We especially like the visual display of the Miles Davis discography broken up into the jazz legend’s most notable musical eras. We have presented this type of feature for a long time, but only via links.

It’s nice to see a version 2 appear on the new MilesDavis.com.

The news/blog is what you’d expect from a corporate source, but the information is current and provides good info for fans.

They even (finally) incorporated news about the upcoming Miles Davis Movie, which I have razzed them about for years.

The new website does not feature anything resembling a hub for ‘fans’ to interact via photos, comments, etc. That takes a little more management in the day-to-day operation, but the reality is that MilesDavis.com should be the #1 portal for fans everywhere. Too be fair, they do have a robust social media presence on Twitter and FB, which does solve some of the ‘community’ issues.

We have (lightly) bashed the official website for a long time; forever a glaring, weak link in the Business of Miles Davis. But now we applaud loudly the big changes made to the website.

The store features some nice apparel and music, and the new Biography – written by Grammy-Award Winning author Ashley Kahn – is superb. They should consider a visual timeline featuring the music and notable moments from Davis’ life.

Linking up with Worn Free for their Miles Davis apparel is a nice addition for people looking for cool t-shirts, hoodies, etc…

In the past I have written that the website just wasn’t good enough, not when associated with an iconic, worldwide brand such as Miles Davis.

So I’m here to say congrats to all involved with putting together a new Miles Davis official website fans can be proud of.

There’s still lots of room for further development of content and interactive features for the fans, but the new design and functionality gets an A.

Miles Davis Has Yet To Be Featured On American Masters

milesdavis-americanmasters I just finished watching a terrific episode of American Masters about the history of the Joffrey Ballet, and it occurred to me that in the time the excellent documentary series debuted on PBS in 1986 they have yet to feature Miles Davis.

Unless they are working on something right now, I would like to personally ask series creator Susan Lacy to think about adding a 2-hour biography of Miles Davis to an upcoming season.

I was actually surprised not to find Miles listed among the almost 200 notable artists and organizations that have been featured over the years. Lord knows there is enough of his professional and personal life to make for a sensational episode. If handled properly by the right team, I think we could end up with a truly definitive (visual) narrative about jazz icon Miles Davis.

It goes without saying that Miles Davis is, indeed, an American Master.

And I highly recommend Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance. I am a novice at anything ballet related, but this is an interesting and exciting story about the history of Joffrey Ballet, and it founders, Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino.

Miles Davis Part Of New Doc About Funk

If there’s going to be a documentary about the past, present and future of Funk, certainly Miles Davis is going to come up somewhere in the conversation. The jazz great is one of many notable artists highlighted in Finding the Funk, a forthcoming documentary from author/filmmaker Nelson George and music producer Arthur Baker.

A nice breakdown of the project can be viewed on Kickstarter, where Finding the Funk is currently holding a pledge drive for donations to help the documentary team, “pay for the soundtrack, editing and graphics, all critical aspects of post-production.”

Inspired by an idea from legendary record producer Arthur Baker, Finding the Funk is a road trip in search of the past, present and future of Funk music. We start in Dayton the birthplace of so many of Funk’s originators, then onto Detroit where from the ashes of Motown, P-Funk’s Mothership arose and then to LA where a new crop of musicians, like Dam Funk, are creating their own Funk history.

Many ‘funky’ people are interviewed for the doc, including Sly Stone, Bootsy Collins, Mike D of the Beastie Boys, D’Angelo, Marcus Miller, Mtume, Sheila E, and Diplo. The doc is hosted by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the Roots.

The jazz/funk chapter in Miles Davis’ career is discussed in Finding the Funk by Marcus Miller and Mtume – two musicians well-qualified to chat about Miles’ Electric Years, where he pushed ‘jazz’ in yet another new and exciting direction.

Rewards for those who contribute include film credits, a digital funk mix-tape curated by Stone’s Throw label head Peanut Butter Wolf, a special sneak peek screening of Finding the Funk at Converse’s Rubber Tracks in NYC, and an opportunity to get your music track re-mixed by Baker.

Vh1 is hoping to air Finding the Funk next spring.

Get funky and pledge your support here!

Miles Davis Part of New Blue Note App

Miles Davis is one of many jazz greats found in the impressive new Blue Note App developed for the iPad from Chicago-based Groovebug.

The new iPad app is free to download and features 30-second music clips; a monthly subscription of $1.99 gets you all of the app’s music tracks played in full.

The initial catalog which includes over one thousand songs.

Other features include amazing photos, in-depth bios, album notes, performance videos and newspaper articles. The Blue Note App also offers playlists curated by jazz experts, plus new audio monthly, and the option to dedicate songs to your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Download the Blue Note App here

Miles Davis Archives: The Big Comeback of 1955

depth1 We haven’t run an Archives post in awhile, but we’re dusting off the intermittent feature for a terrific Nat Hentoff article published in DownBeat from 1955.

So, Miles is now in the most advantageous position of his career. He has the bookings, the record outlet, and he has the group that he’s been eager to assemble.

“I want this group,” says Miles, “to sound the way Sonny plays the way all of the men in it play individually—different from anyone else in jazz today. We’ve got that quality individually; now we have to work on getting the group to sound that way collectively. As we get to work regularly, something will form up and we’ll get a style.”

Bird:

Bird used to play 40 different styles. He was never content to remain the same. I remember how at times he used to turn the rhythm section around when he and I, Max, and Duke Jordan were playing together.

Bird used to make me play, try to play. He used to lead me on the bandstand. I used to quit every night. The tempo was so up, the challenge was so great.

Miles: A Trumpeter In The Midst Of A Big Comeback Makes A Very Frank Appraisal Of Today’s Jazz Scene
by Nat Hentoff — 11/2/1955

Click here to read the full story

The Miles Davis Stamp: Release Date Announced For New Miles Davis Stamp

The Miles Davis and Edith Piaf stamps will be released 6/12 in NYC and Paris.

As mentioned in January, the stamps are being issued this year as part of a joint issue with USPS and French postal service, La Poste.

Check out this terrific column by Greg Breeding about his assignment to design the stamps commemorating both Miles Davis and Edith Piaf.

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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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 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!

Miles Davis & The ’80s: A Reevaluation

I highly recommend Phil Freeman’s new article, “Miles Davis In The ’80s”, over at the arts and culture journal Burning Ambulance.

The text is actually part of a paper Freeman delivered at the 2012 EMP Pop Conference in New York last week, under the title “From the Corner to Carnegie Hall and Beyond: The Urbanization of Miles Davis 1972-1991.”

Here is a snippet:

When Miles reappeared in 1981, having stayed out of sight for the majority of the disco era and fusion’s darkest days, he must have been keeping an eye on the street from his window, because his music had changed to suit the times.

The sprawling, jamming funk-metal band he’d fronted from ’73 to ’75 was gone, replaced by a swaggering five-man squad of players half his age. The only returning member was Al Foster, and the music was taut, melodic funk that sounded like it could have been hip-hop backing tracks.

Definitely check out Phil Freeman’s article, “Miles Davis In The ’80s”, by clicking HERE.

Here’s Hoping New Season Of Mad Men Features A Miles Davis Song (Or Two) (UPDATED)

mandm

The award-winning Mad Men returns for its fifth season, which begins Sunday night after a 17-month-long hiatus.

In its long-awaited fifth season, “Mad Men” picks up the story in 1966 and is likely to move forward into ’67, a time of major change in the U.S.

As we excitedly prepare for the return of Mad Men, we wonder: will the music of Miles Davis be making an appearance at some point during the new season?

Season one (set in 1960) featured two Miles Davis tracks: In Episode 5 (5G) we hear “Blue in Green,” and Episode 8 (The Hobo Code) is highlighted by “Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio).”

I believe Episode 8 (Souvenir) from season 3 also featured a Miles Davis tune. It’s 1963 and that means there are plenty of Davis albums Pete Campbell could be listening to, notably Kind of Blue, Miles Ahead and Sketches of Spain.

The show could use a Miles tune from any previous year if they like, which would be great, but in ’66-’67 Miles released Miles Smiles and Sorcerer. Bitches Brew is still a few more years away.

I have already plead my case for show creator Matthew Weiner to actually write Miles Davis into the show for an episode.

The scene: Miles Davis strolls into a bar with a few friends one evening – only to encounter Don Draper. They end up talking about life and love, and then Miles imparts some heavy advice, which helps Don in whatever personal disarray he’s likely to be in.

That’s TV gold, people!

We’re totally jazzed about the new season of Mad Men, and here’s hoping we’ll hear some classic, Miles Davis tunes as Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell, Peggy Olson, and the rest of the gang continue their very stylish adventures in advertising.

Miles Davis At Peacock Alley & 1953 Interview

miles-4 This is from an old post, but a post I love because of the photos and the awesome, and quite rare, 1953 audio interview with Miles Davis in St. Louis.

Miles stopped by radio station KXLW to visit with DJ Harry Frost and his Fresh Air program.

Click HERE to listen to the interview at Lockwood and Summit!

They also have an incredible photo archive, which includes Miles Davis. Here is a link to photos taken by Bernie Thrasher from the infamous Peacock Alley gigs. One is a close up of Miles (above), and the others, found HERE, are a) Philly Joe Jones, b) Miles and Paul Chambers and c) Coltrane with Chambers, Miles and Red Garland in the background.

Miles In St. Louis – 1953 Interview Part One

Miles Davis Live 1964

Wow. What an exciting moment when the curtain opens and there is Miles Davis, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams.

The notes on the YouTube video say this concert might very well be the show at Teatro dell’Arte, Milan, Italy – October 11, 1964.