Miles Davis

Miles Davis Story

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This two-hour documentary was produced by Mike Dibb for the BBC's Channel Four network and as of this writing -- in 2008 -- The Miles Davis Story (2002) stands as the most honest biopic assessment of his life and career that has ever been assembled. Even as the primary focus remains on the music, none of Davis' skeletons are off limits, with plenty of first-hand accounts of him at his best and worst. Few stones are left unturned, from his unsettling relationships to the chronic bouts of substance abuse that fuelled his more disturbing personal incidents. Dibb's narration is sparse as the saga unfolds in the interviews. While all of the performance footage has circulated for decades among Davis devotees, it is actually the engaging and revealing comments -- courtesy of those he shared his life with on and off the bandstand -- that provide insights into the man behind the horn. Among the key contributors are Clark Terry -- Davis' mentor from his early days in East St. Louis, IL -- as well as Jimmy Cobb, who was the last surviving member of the Kind of Blue (1959) musical dream team. Herbie Hancock (keyboards), Ron Carter (bass), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Keith Jarrett (keyboards), Chick Corea (keyboards), Mahavishnu John McLaughlin (guitar), David Liebman (sax), and Marcus Miller (bass) also provide their respective perspectives. As do two of the most important men behind the scenes: Bob Weinstock, the owner of the Riverside Jazz label, and Columbia Records' George Avakian. Both gentlemen deserve a tremendous amount of credit in their foresight when signing Davis, whose reputation as an irascible force of nature made him undesirable yet magnetic. As mentioned above there are plenty of concert excerpts of the artist. Yet one major oversight is the lack of any full-length performances. Arguably, these might not be appropriate in the context of the main program. However, the lack of substantive extras on this title make the additions a no-brainer. That said, viewers can find a cursory text biography and an equally perfunctory illustrated discography that deals exclusively with Davis' Columbia Records library.

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