The Miles Davis Movie: A Long Time Comin’

pic_09 I’ve been following the ‘making of’ the Miles Davis Biopic since 2008. Along the way I have written about all types of topics associated with Miles Davis, but the centerpiece of Miles Davis Online has always been the movie.

It’s funny to think that in 2008 I wrote in a post about the film being a ‘deconstructed biopic’ that, “the wheels are in motion” in regards to the film getting made.

Well, I was off six or seven years!!

“You could make a strong argument that this Blog about the Miles Davis biopic is a bit early to the party.”

I wrote that in a post on November 10, 2008. Wow! That’s a lot of writing about a film project that was years from actually getting produced.

There is a wealth of excellent conjecture about the movie scattered across Miles Davis Online, but I had a terrific time writing about possible movie scenes, casting ideas, the movie poster, the music, specific scenes, and so on.

I was writing about the Miles Davis Biopic when no one was remotely interested, back when Don Cheadle hadn’t even suited up for Iron Man 2 yet.

It has been a lot of fun diving into the story of the film – with all its twists and turns -, and now it’s here. It’s actually being made.

So the wheels are definitely in motion – in June 2014 – and that’s a good thing.

That post from November 10, 2008 is titled: The Waiting Is the Hardest Part.

Happy to say that -finally- the wait is over.

Poll: What Do You Think of the Title ‘Miles Ahead’ for the Miles Davis Movie?

The big news today is that Don Cheadle has hooked up with Indigogo to help raise $325,000 in funds by July 6 to enable him to make Miles Ahead, his forever-in-development movie about jazz legend Miles Davis.

I honestly cannot decide if I like the title Miles Ahead or not. For awhile there the film was called Kill the Trumpet Player, which was totally off the wall crazy, but now in retrospect wasn’t so bad.

So… Miles Ahead it is. What do you think?

The Saga Continues: Don Cheadle Looks To Crowdfunding For His Miles Davis Film

The long (long) saga of the Miles Davis Movie/Biopic has taken an interesting turn: Cheadle has aligned with Indiegogo to raise $325,000 in funds by July 6 to enable him to make Miles Ahead, a movie about jazz legend Miles Davis.

Visit the Indiegogo campaign here.

Via Deadline:

Now, the knee-jerk temptation will be to sound a sour note about a famous star of screen (Iron Man 3) and TV (House Of Lies) for going the crowdfunding route, as was done when Spike Lee and especially Zach Braff did it. I don’t expect much blowback here. It’s not a lot of money he’s chasing, and Cheadle says that he in fact has put a lot of his own money at stake on a project he’s been trying to get made for years (I first wrote about it back in 2007). He’s also got the jazz man’s estate behind him. And frankly, there should be a movie made about Miles Davis, one of the pioneers of an inherently American art form. It would be hard to find someone more passionate about that than Cheadle.


“Most studios don’t make these kinds of movies anymore, so we are doing it independently,” Cheadle said in a statement. “I’m personally putting a big chunk of money into our budget as well as putting all my fees back in. But the extra money we hope to raise on Indiegogo will help us re-create the multiple time periods we’re dealing with and with the logistics of incorporating all the music.

We are excited to get people talking about the movie early, raise awareness, and set into motion the groundswell of support we hope will continue through to the film’s release.”

Here’s hoping he gets enough folks to chip in. Then maybe we can do something about the movie title. I’m almost missing “Kill the Trumpet Player” at this point.

I’ve been covering this movie project since 2008, so I think I will just go ahead and donate $15,000 to be a co-producer. It just feels right.

Miles Davis (Not A) Biopic Now Called ‘Miles Ahead’

Ten days after Cate Blanchett finished “Carol,” the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission announced that Don Cheadle will star as iconic jazz innovator Miles Davis in a movie filming here in July.

Cheadle (“House of Lies,” “Iron Man 2,” “Iron Man 3”) also will direct and produce “Miles Ahead” from a script he wrote with Steven Baigelman.

Local musicians and actors will be needed for the movie about trumpeter Davis, a major jazz figure in the bebop, cool jazz and jazz fusion movements in the 20th century. Production offices for the film opened in Cincinnati in mid-May, scouting for film locations and local talent.

Continuing reading here.

I was actually beginning to like “Kill the Trumpet Player,” but really, that was never going to be the movie title.

Vince Wilburn Jr.: “We Get the Vision that Don Has”

mp-05006019 iRock Jazz LIVE! recently featured about an hour-long video chat with Vince Wilburn Jr., Miles Davis’ nephew, who, along with his cousins, Cheryl Davis and Erin Davis, oversee Miles Davis Properties, LLC.

Around the 35-minute mark talk turns to the Miles Davis Movie. Nothing to stop the presses, but nice to hear/see Vince discuss the upcoming movie.

About the forthcoming project – one that Don Cheadle has been attached as star and director since 2007! – Wilburn Jr. did say about Cheadle:

“He is really hands-on, and he is really passionate about this movie.”

Cheadle even chimed in during the video chat to comment: “The movie is all about bringing new fans to the music and to Miles’ life.”

Check Out These Awesome Miles Davis At The Fillmore Posters

1-Up_On_The_Wall We’re happy to feature one of six concert posters Louise Massol designed for a new contest to commemorate the release of Miles Davis’ Miles At The Fillmore.

For this particular poster Louise says she was ‘inspired by the idea of a simple stencil ad on a New York City wall in the 1970s.’

Great work!

Brand (Un)Awareness: Official Miles Davis Website Still Underwhelms

The news of the Miles Davis Movie starring and directed by Don Cheadle finally getting the green light – after years and years of development hell – is a few months old. And yet, this news, big news in the world of Miles Davis, is not mentioned anywhere on the official Miles Davis website.

This strikes me as odd.

If one is to believe is the online hub for the brand, then it would seem that the official site should be exploding with excitement that the film project is moving forward.

A project, let’s not forget, with the full backing from the Miles Davis Estate – more specifically, Davis’ three heirs who oversee all business matters related to the jazz legend: his son Erin, his daughter, Cheryl, and their cousin Vince Wilburn Jr.

So why the disconnect? Not even a link to a news story – and there were plenty of news stories about the Miles Davis Movie, known as “Kill the Trumpet Player”, finally getting the go-ahead.

Even if the official website is managed by Sony, why not have info posted on the homepage?

The truth is that while is a serviceable official website, it’s really not that good – or particularly useful. It’s greatest attribute is that it features the most desirable of the Miles Davis web domain names. It ranks #1 on Google for ‘Miles Davis’, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

But it is not an all-encompassing online hub, which is something we try to be around here at Miles Davis Online. But has the estate support, and Sony and the vaults and lord knows what else, so it’s upsetting to think how mediocre the website is when it could be something terrific.

Kobalt Music Group just signed a huge deal with the estate to administer the entire catalog of the late jazz icon.

Key line: “Kobalt… aims to “develop new creative opportunities” as well as tap Davis’ works for use in films, television, advertising and other media.”

One can only hope “other media” includes the world wide web.

I have gone on ad neaseum about all the cool entertainment and business opportunities that can be built for a robust official website. (A Miles Davis iPhone App Would Be Nice)

There is terrific opportunity to be creative and produce engaging content, while generating revenue. It could be a win-win for all.

But for some reason the ‘Internet’ side of the Miles Davis Business is shoved off to the side – at least right now.

I have zero info as to what is really going on behind the scenes, but the official website has not been good for a long long time, so it’s not as if this is a new issue. Becasue I want it to be so good, so much a true portal for ‘All Things Miles Davis’, that I get over-excited about the situation.

Miles Davis Online has been around for a lot of years now, and I have worked hard to create a smart, creative web endeavor focused on Miles Davis.

I can only dream about the possibilities if I had the incredible resources of the Miles Davis Estate, along with the music labels, to produce a truly spectacular ‘official’ website.

Becasue the official website resides with Sony, there is no ‘voice’ associated with the product. It is merely an adequate, corporate website for Miles Davis. There’s no passion baked in. It’s just a basic set-up that’s been outdated for years now. They have produced some cool design contests and other interactive projects – but the website overall (usability, design, functionality) is just not where it needs to be.

I don’t think that’s good enough, not with an iconic, worldwide brand such as Miles Davis.

It does not need to be something extravagant. No one expects the Wall Street Journal of official websites, but there is most definitely a better strategy for building a solid brand online for Miles Davis.

Onward and upward.

Kobalt Music Group to Administer the Entire Miles Davis Catalog

Via Variety:

In a deal that reflects both the continuing initiative of the Miles Davis estate and the growing mini-major status of the Kobalt Music Group, the two parties recently struck a deal for the independent music publisher to administer the entire catalog of the late jazz icon.

“As a jazz enthusiast and sax player myself, listening to his music has been a major part of my life,” said Willard Ahdritz, founder and CEO of Kobalt, in the statement. “So it’s especially meaningful to me and an honor for everyone at Kobalt to be working with the Miles Davis Estate and their great team including Erin Davis, Cheryl Davis, Vince Wilburn, Jr. and Darryl Porter.”

For its part, Miles Davis Properties LLC called Kobalt a “forward-thinking” company that “puts the artists’ needs at the forefront.”

Where they are not ‘forward-thinking’, in my opinion, is on the web, where I believe the Miles Davis brand is being under-served.

But congrats on a great deal.

Miles Davis Featured In Mr Porter Jazz Icons Special

Mr Porter takes a closer look at the enduring music and style of some of the finest jazz musicians. Miles Davis, as one would expect, is among the eight icons featured. Great photos throughout of all the famous musicians.


Do You Know the Way to Miles Davis Way?

3-miles-3 West 77th Street will be renamed “Miles Davis Way,” in honor of the jazz musician who lived on the Upper West Side block.

I wrote about this back in 2010, so this is a project Shirley Zafirau, a neighbor of Davis, has been working on for a long time.

Very happy to see it finally happened.

For about 25 years, until the mid-1980s, Miles Davis, the legendary jazz trumpeter who died in 1991, lived in an apartment building at 312 West 77th Street, where he enjoyed a well-established New York City tradition: loitering outside on the stoop, greeting passers-by and chatting with neighbors.

“He interacted with the community on the street,” said, Shirley Zafirau, a neighbor of Davis, who still lives on the block. “He really liked being here.”

Ms. Zafirau believed that Davis’s long tenure on the block deserved to be memorialized and so embarked on a campaign to have the block renamed after him. It was a long process that included numerous phone calls and emails to city officials, many visits to the local community board and the attending of several City Council hearings.

Her effort finally bore fruit when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill on Tuesday officially renaming West 77th Street between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue as “Miles Davis Way.”

Click here to read the rest of the story via New York Times.

The Miles Davis Movie: Don Cheadle Has Something To Say About the Miles Davis Movie

This is via Don Cheadle’s Twitter page:

Miles Davis flick is on. But I hate the word biopic like Miles hated the word jazz. It’s misleading. Not attempting to tell his life story.

Cheadle’s intent not to produce a traditional biopic has been well-known for some years. Regardless of what I, or anyone else, thinks of the actor’s unconventional narrative he’s designed for the film, the most important part is that at some point we will get to see Miles Davis portrayed on screen – and that is exciting.

Here is the plot:

After his record label steals his comeback album before he’s ready for it to be heard, Miles Davis hunts it down with a journalist and a junkie jazz musician.

That could very well be the makings of a fun night at the movie theater. Or not. No doubt there will be plenty of opinions on Cheadle’s ‘cubist’ take on a film about the jazz legend.

But I wonder, with Cheadle doing his best not to tell the life story of Miles Davis, is it possible for someone else to attempt such a cinematic endeavor?

I have always felt that a blowout-the-budget, three or four-part documentary (film or TV) could do the trick. There have been Miles Davis documentaries previous, but I mean a really big, Ken Burns-style production.

I’m looking forward to see what Cheadle has in store for his directorial debut. But I’d still love to see a biopic about Miles Davis in the same style as Ray or Walk the Line. Maybe a Miles Davis film generated by a Hollywood studio just wouldn’t cut it. Maybe it’s too hard to sell to the general public. Who knows? But for now, we will see what Cheadle has for us, plus the Miles Davis movie from director George Tillman Jr. (based on the book “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis”, written by Gregory Davis).

I’m going to be very interested to see how they market this film. Obviously you have the icon Miles Davis as the focus, plus a talented actor such as Cheadle starring in and directing the project. But it’s a quirky plot. But it might have an immense amount of ‘cool’ to go with it, something that usually follows around a Tarantino film when it arrives on screen.

In the short-term, congratulations to Cheadle and Co. for finally getting the project over the finish line. This project has been percolating for a long time. I started following back in 2007, when Cheadle jumped aboard. I have spilled a lot of digital ink about this project, most of it fun conjecture about who should play who, what scenes needs to be included, and just about anything you can think of related to a movie project that was short of actual news and had become a Hall of Fame member of Development Hell.

I have enjoyed following the project from the start, and I will continue to chronicle the film as the cameras start rolling.

The best is yet to come…..

The Miles Davis Movie: BiFrost Pictures will Finance and Produce “Kill the Trumpet Player”

MilesDavisInBerlinBC BiFrost Pictures told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it will finance and produce “Kill the Trumpet Player,” with Don Cheadle starring and also making his directorial debut.

Production is finally set to begin in June.

The production company said the movie will focus on when Davis temporarily retired from making music and then re-emerged in 1979. The script is written by Cheadle and Steven Baigelman.

Ewan McGregor will co-star as a Rolling Stone reporter, and Zoe Saldana will play Frances Davis, the trumpet player’s former wife.


The Business of Miles Davis: Building the Brand for A New Generation, But A Digital Plan Remains Elusive

blue-kind-of Making Sure Miles Stays Forever Young is a very good article in the Sunday New York Times about the business of Miles Davis and how the estate is working to keep the brand going strong for a new generation of fans.

But something is missing.

Amid all the conversation in the article about collaborating with hip-hop artists, the Don Cheadle biopic, the museum exhibition, and the Lord only knows how much music remains in the vaults, there was not a single mention of the Internet, not a word about digital strategy, or even if a digital strategy exists.

“We’re talking to everybody, because we’re involved in growing and promoting and exposure,” Erin Davis said during a long joint interview late last month at the office of the heirs’ publicists here. “It’s taken me 20 years to realize what we’re doing and how it affects the future.”

I can only hope that “talking to everybody” includes digital media folks.

For the brand to truly develop and continue to remain strong down the road then there must be an aggressive digital drive, a creative plan to embrace the new digital landscape.

This might be happening. But it surely wasn’t mentioned in the NY Times article.

Davis’ three heirs who manage the estate – his son Erin, his daughter, Cheryl, and their cousin Vince Wilburn Jr. – have done a masterful job with the re-releases and pushing the brand into new areas, but there continues be a disconnect between the Miles Davis brand and digital media.

There was a time when the estate owned and operated Then they handed over the management to Sony. I think this was a big mistake.

Sony handles plenty of artists’ websites, and isn’t so terrible. But it’s just another official website, nothing special, nothing to get excited about. It’s nothing to keep a Miles Davis fan coming back for more. doesn’t need to be, which you must admit is terrific for Elvis Presley fans, but it should absolutely be the hub for the Miles Davis brand online. should be the definitive digital platform for All Things Miles Davis. It’s not. At least not right now.

If anything, Miles Davis Online is the place for All Things Miles Davis, even if we are just a simple Blog without any of the resources and access. But we’re trying hard – and have been since 2007.

I firmly believe could deliver endless entertainment for fans, plus provide numerous advertising/sponsorship opportunities to actually drive a profit online.

They could be streaming concerts. They could sell exclusive mp3s. The could put a greater emphasis on multimedia. Why not release a collection of rare tracks online-only? How about unseen photos? How about an online auction for charity?

Where is the awesome Miles Davis App?

We produced an Artist Series on Miles Davis Online to feature designers, photographers, painters, etc. who have incorporated Miles Davis into their work.

It’s easy for me to make suggestions. No doubt there are legal/rights/other issues to deal with when working with so much content from various sources. But still, the opportunity for a first-rate digital strategy is not out of reach.

To keep the Miles Davis strong, and ready for the next generation to discover and enjoy, digital media is where this endeavor needs to happen. Sure, collaborations with hip-hop artists has some appeal, and might lead to something interesting, but it seems like a short-term play. I like Questlove of the Roots, but I, personally, have zero interest in hearing a collaboration between he and Miles Davis. But that’s just me. I’m a little older, so I would rather have access to unseen photos, hear rare studio tracks, etc…

It’s clear the estate have a big box of ideas. And they have mentioned in the past that they get offers all the time – many not so good. So I applaud the careful approach the trio takes in building the brand.

But with no robust digital strategy, the brand is left to play catch-up online.

With Sony managing the ‘official website’ it’s unclear how much input the estate has in content, etc. But there is no doubt a void.

The Miles Davis Biopic is a project that’s been in development a long time (with blessings from the estate), but there is no mention on the official website. Is that odd? I think so.

Currently Don Cheadle (set to star and direct) is at AFM trying to get the project a deal, but the article has this:

Ms. Davis said that they have been in discussions with the actor and producer Don Cheadle about a biopic — Mr. Cheadle would star and direct — but that “some questions remain.”

In discussions? Cheadle has been linked to the project since 2007! To read that quote is to believe the idea of the movie project was just thought of a few weeks ago.

What discussions could they be having? Maybe they aren’t sold on Cheadle’s quirky plot for the non-biopic. Cheadle has already said filming is set for next summer. The whole point of having the estate involved is to have access to the music. That is the key to the entire movie. Does anyone want to see a movie about Miles Davis and not hear at least a few classic tunes? Anyone can make a movie about Miles Davis. But not everyone can have the rights to the music.

But back to digital strategy. If and when this biopic gets going, is there going to be a synergy between the official website and the film? There should be. I have already written plenty about how the movie can generate even more buzz via the web.

“Thank goodness, we all get along, that we’re on the same page, so that there can be movement,” Mr. Wilburn said. “You can’t get locked into one thing. You’ve got to keep it fresh. Hey, this is global, this is Miles Davis.

Miles Davis is global. But the brand needs a strong digital strategy to properly link the worldwide audience of Miles Davis fans, new and old, together.

Many of the releases in recent years, including Monday’s, seem aimed at completists and other longtime fans. The bigger test is the casual listener, especially a new generation that may be only vaguely aware of Davis.

That “new generation” is online, on tablets, and on a mobile phone.

Miles Davis Movie To Begin Filming Summer 2014

No word if a deal is in place, but according to Don Cheadle, via this new Variety article, shooting is set to begin next summer.

“We still haven’t decided where,” Cheadle said. “That depends on things like tax credits.”

Cheadle is set to star in and direct the Miles Davis Biopic – Kill the Trumpet Player -, even though director Antoine Fuqua had been named as director awhile back. It was never confirmed in the movie press, or by Cheadle, but the project was/is listed on his IMDB page.

Obviously the deal fell through and Cheadle took back the directors’ chair.

From the Variety article:

Don Cheadle says he began to play the trumpet three years ago as preparation for starring in and directing the Miles Davis biopic “Kill the Trumpet Player.”

He found the trumpet to be unforgiving. “It’s a mean instrument,” he mused Thursday night at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica. “It’s a relief that my playing won’t be used in the film.”

And this:

Cheadle said he first heard about the project in 2006 when Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Vince Wilburn announced I was going to play Miles, and it was the first I’d heard of it,” he recalled. “It’s not the first time that’s happened.”

I have been covering the Miles Davis Biopic since 2007. All this news makes my heart sing! Sure, I think this Miles Davis chasing bad record execs plot is peculiar, but I’m happy to go along with it because the idea of Cheadle playing the jazz legend has always been the #1 reason to hope and pray this project finally gets made.

I think the story of Miles Davis deserves a thorough account of his life, which means another biopic might happen down the road, but for now we’ll see what Cheadle can deliver. I also believe Ken Burns (or someone else) really needs to produce an in-depth, three or four-part series on Miles Davis.

And don’t forget: Director George Tillman Jr. has his own Miles Davis Biopic on the way, loosely based on the book “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis”, written by Gregory Davis.

No word yet if Tillman and producer Nick Raynes have an actor in mind to play Davis. No doubt it will be key for Tillam to cast wisely when finding someone to play such a major, real-life figure. They could go the unknown route, or perhaps there is an actor already established who might want to take on the challenge.

While Cheadle’s movie is built on a more unique narrative, it seems Tillman Jr. will deliver a more traditional plot.

The Miles Davis Movie: Was Antoine Fuqua Ever Going To Direct the Biopic?

For the longest time it was understood that Antoine Fuqua was going to direct the Miles Davis Movie – a project Don Cheadle was going to direct dating back to when he signed on in 2007.

But then news leaked that Fuqua was in and Cheadle would continue on as star, playing jazz legend Miles Davis.

Now that the film project, titled Kill The Trumpet Player, is at AFM seeking a deal, word is that Cheadle is back in the director’s chair.

The Fuqua news was never officially announced, but IMDB had the project listed on Fuqua’s page, where it remains as of this time. Perhaps he is remaining as a producer.

Anyway, somewhere along the way Cheadle must have had a change of heart. It’s his vision, so why not see it through on both sides of the camera.