This is the second time this season the name Miles Davis has been spotlighted on the supremely excellent show Parks And Recreation. On the latest episode (“Partridge”, 4-5-13), Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, is doped on morphine while in the hospital dealing with kidney stones.
In his time of being under the influence of some heavy drugs, he states, “I feel like I never gave Miles Davis proper shrift.”
Of course, watching it is much funnier than my quick summary.
Between 1942 and 1972, jazz changed more than it had in all the years before, or would in all the years after. When this period began, Miles Davis was a high-school student, moonlighting in St. Louis dance bands; as it ended, he had become the avatar of a blend of jazz and deep funk that only made real sense to listeners on hard drugs.
In between, Davis traced a line from a kind of swing-rooted music heard on “Au Privave,” an early number cut as a Charlie Parker sideman, into dalliances with classical forms, R&B and electrified sounds.
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.
In August 2011 the We Want Miles exhibition traveled to Brazil, following successful stops in Paris and Montreal.
Curated by Vincent Bessières and beautifully designed by the Cité de la Musique in Paris, the multimedia expo includes about 300-plus items, featuring recordings, artwork, photographs, videos, documentaries, clothing and musical scores provided by the Miles Davis estate and private collectors.
As the expo concluded there was talk of more cities to host the wonderfully exhaustive history of Miles Davis, but thus far I am not able to track any news of upcoming expos.
For the U.S., it’s easy to think of New York City, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco as prime locations. Even St. Louis can be added to the list – considering the Miles Davis connection.
The more people who have a chance to see this thrilling expo the better. The question is whether or not the show is scheduled to tour America, or other cities around the world for that matter.
One of my favorite TV shows is Parks and Recreation. So I was mighty pleased to hear the name Miles Davis called out in the show’s cold open Thursday night (11/29). Designed as an NPR spoof, the opening set-up takes place in Wamapoke County Public Radio station.
Becasue their listeners love their jazz music, the decision is made to play a recording of Benny Goodman played over a separate recording of Miles Davis.
The always enjoyable Letters of Noterecently posted a terrific memo, sent by record producer Teo Macero to executives at Columbia Records regarding the title of the next Miles Davis album – that would end up being Bitches Brew.
FROM: Teo Macero
TO: JOHN BERG, JOE AGRESTI, PHYLLIS MASON
DATE: November 14, 1969
RE: MILES DAVIS CS 9961 XSM 151732/3 PROJECT # 03802
Miles just called and said he wants this album to be titled:
There is a new illustrated history of Miles Davis on the way, which features 300 pictures and words by people from Bill Cosby and George Wein to the legendary Sonny Rollins.
“Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History” by Voyageur Press is due out Nov. 17. A terrific gift for the holidays!
“Miles Davis – The Complete Illustrated History” is Written by an all-star team, including Sonny Rollins, Bill Cosby, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Clark Terry, Lenny White, Greg Tate, Ashley Kahn, Robin D. G. Kelley, Francis Davis, George Wein, Vincent Bessières, Gerald Early, Nate Chinen, Nalini Jones, Dave Liebman, Garth Cartwright, and more.
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.
This is a not a new story, but one I find rather terrific. With the 2012 presidential election just around the corner, it’s fun to look back at Dizzy Gillespie’s historic 1964 challenge to incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson and Republican nominee Barry Goldwater.
Pushed into his own style of jazz politics by jazz writer Ralph Gleason and his wife Jean, Johnson writes that Dizzy had plans to rename the White House ‘the Blues House’ and, “proposed a presidential cabinet with Duke Ellington as minister of state, Max Roach as minister of defense, Charles Mingus as minister of peace, Peggy Lee as minister of labor, and Miles Davis as the director of the CIA.”
Miles Davis taking charge of the CIA sounds about right.
Gillespie was in swinging campaign mode at his 1963 Monterey concert, featuring a rewrite of “Salt Peanuts” by Jon Hendricks with lyrics that included the lines, “Your politics oughta be a groovier thing/so get a good president who’s willing to swing/Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy!”
That particular concert can be heard on the CD Dizzy for President.
Back in May we noted that the city of Alton, Illinois, Miles Davis’ hometown, had begun the process of honoring the jazz legend with a life-sized statue in the heart of Downtown’s entertainment district.
Pride, Inc. has taken the lead in getting the Miles statue project moving, and, according to Pride board member Patricia Ackman, they have already decided what the statue will look like.
Optimistic estimates put the cost of the statue at $50,000 to $100,000, with a two-three year timetable, But Brett Stawar, president of the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, believes it could cost $200,000 and take up to five years to raise the money and finish the sculpture.
Davis was born in Alton in 1926. He lived there until only age 2 when his family moved to East St. Louis.
The need of leadership in a distributed age has never been greater. Instead of imposing competence–a virtual impossibility–leaders provoke it by designing the conditions that nurture strategic improvisation and continuous learning, and thus help their organizations break out of competency traps. Great leaders like Miles Davis are able to see peoples’ potential, disrupt their habits, and demand that they pay attention in new ways.
And the Prince of Silence is still being royally rewarded for doing it. His Highness’s treasury is overflowing. Money is every bit as important to him as creativity. Or rather, they are inseparable. Obliging record companies, promoters and broadcasters to pay top dollar also commits them to saturation promotion, which encourages business and maintains the price. Money is a symbol of reality, even – especially – money for nothing.
Miles said he could put together a better rock band than Jimi Hendrix. He advised young musicians to learn rock, rhythm and blues and funk tunes rather than jazz standards. “I have to change,” he said. “It’s like a curse.” Miles goes to the money, but it’s more complicated than that: The money comes to him.
He has been paid millions to expand frontiers, to reflect the best of our urban experience, to do exactly what he wanted to do and did better than anyone else – to “play what’s not there.” The artistry with which he relates to money is an art in itself, an integral part of what makes him – whether he likes it or not – a living legend. His multimillion-dollar mansion in Malibu is one of his greatest hits. Miles Davis plays money with as much conviction as he does the trumpet.
If Don Cheadle decides he only wants to direct his Miles Davis Movie and not play the lead role he can always look to actor Rob Morgan, who is playing the jazz legend in the upcoming Swedish film Monica – A Lingonberry in a Cocktail, a biopic of iconic Swedish jazz singer/actress Monica Zetterlund.
Also known as Monica Z, the film follows the celebrated jazz vocalist Monica Zetterlund from her home in small town Sweden to the inner circles of New York jazz in the 1960s. It’s the story of a gifted artist with a unique presence and vulnerability whose public persona hid a turbulent love life off stage.
No idea how big or small a part Morgan has in the film, but still, he’s in the movie as Miles and that will be cool to watch. One wonders if we’ll see a scene in the film when Zetterlund meets Miles Davis for the first time, which she describes in this video interview.
The interview (just a quick three minutes) is in Swedish, but someone added the translation, which is nice and helpful.
But for the best part of the interview, Zetterlund speaks in perfectly good English – and it’s a zinger. Oh, that Miles!
Swedish-Icelandic singer Edda Magnusson will play the lead in Monica Z. Other jazz stars showing up in the film include Bill Evans and Ella Fitzgerald. Zetterlund’s 1964 album with Bill Evans, Waltz for Debby, is considered a classic.
Currently shooting in Sweden and in the US, the film is directed by Per Fly and based on an original script by Peter Birro.