Jazz Great Miles Davis Given a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Update
The music of the late Miles Davis never goes out of fashion but it and he are enjoying renewed interest thanks to Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle’s recently released, long-in-the-making biopic of his life. To give you some idea of why and how Davis’ work continues to resonate, Cheadle – who did years of research before immersing himself in the part as star, director and co-writer of the film – recently told Noisey, “If Miles was alive he would be working with Kendrick Lamar, and Kamasi Washington and Walter Smith III…. I think Kendrick’s on the cutting edge of music right now. He’s incorporating all kinds of sounds. He’s an incredible storyteller. That’s something Miles would definitely have been into.”
Another contemporary music artist Davis would have likely co-signed is jazz man Robert Glasper, whose experiments with hip-hop and R&B pick up where the late Guru left off with his Jazzmatazz projects. Glasper’s forthcoming album Everything’s Beautiful features collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, KING, and Laura Mvula, among others, in 21st century retooling of Davis tracks. The animated music video for first single “Ghetto Walkin” underscores Cheadle’s point in his interview: Davis was a race man. His art was in concert with his political and social consciousness. That aspect is highlighted in the video’s nods to everything from police brutality to the gang violence and drug addiction that plague parts of the black community as the hero makes his way toward redemption. It’s very, very Miles.