The Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead opens at the Esquire Theatre on Friday, April 15. Cincinnati should feel privileged and proud that it’s the backdrop for the film, in large part because it built—and preserved, more than most cities–the classic architecture that has film makers lining up to shoot movies here. And the story should be as colorful as the threads that Miles sports as he hops around in a sports car trying to recover a purloined reel of tape, gun ready, dark shades covering his eyes. I don’t know that a movie could have picked a better period in the life of Miles Davis to examine. It was the one time he disappeared. No records, no concerts, and a whole lot of silence. Miles had entered that limbo where Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Art Pepper, and other great jazz musicians once resided, with drugs, drinking, artistic burnout, jail time, and asylum visits sometimes playing a role in such matters. What weighed down Miles was a combination of drugs, health problems that weren’t lifestyle related, and the fact that the music he was playing wasn’t connecting with an audiences because it was too far ahead of its time; now all people can do is rave about albums like Agharta and Dark Magus. So he disappeared. Away from the stage and the studio, a jazz musician who had been so busy reinventing himself and his music that reflecting on the past was not on his list of options looked back. Those flashbacks in the film seem like they’ll be more than a device, then: for once, during that period between 1975 and 1979, Miles could take stock of his life to date – and get that damn tape back.
Big doings on Ludlow Avenue last night, what with the premier of Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle’s tribute to Miles Davis that is based on a period when his career (and his life in general) were kind of in limbo. Folks were dressed in their finest, as only befits a film devoted to a musician who, no matter what decade you’re talking about, was known for his stylish threads. I haven’t seen the film yet, but when it opens on April 15th at the Esquire, I’ll forsurely check it out then, as I’ve got good feelings about this one. Shot in Cincinnati, it promises to be both a visual and musical delight.