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Birth of the Cool


If you get a chance to see the Miles Davis documentary “Birth of the Cool” that’s making the rounds jump on it. It’s the most insightful foray into the psychic force that was Miles Davis as we are ever likely to get.  His ex-wife, the dancer Francis Taylor Davis stole the show, so to speak, with her quips about everyday life with Miles, but she contributes mightily to a picture of a man rarely satisfied with the status quo and, therefore driven, either through ambition or hidden feelings of inadequacy, to push for more.  

It’s a more nuanced and complete picture of the man and his psyche than comes from his autobiography by Quincy Troupe.  Troupe was willing to let Miles weave stories that substantiated the image Miles worked hard to convey.  The film gives us more insight into what was happening behind the curtain.    Miles remains of the few individuals who as he succinctly put it, “changed music” several times.  He was a river into which flowed many tributaries.  

Another documentary that sheds a little light on the Miles Davis story is, “I Called Him Morgan: A Tale of Marriage, Murder and Jazz. “  This is the story of trumpeter Lee Morgan.  In it, Helen Morgan, Lee’s wife and murderer, recounts her introduction to Miles and, brief though it is, it is diagnostic of both the time and the temperament of the musical genius. 

(The documentary is now available on PBS.  follow the link below)

Until next time,