Miles had several successful albums, and even though he was one of the most famous musicians in the world, this didn’t stop the police from beating him up outside of his concert with his name on the marquis. Miles became (even more) bitter and cynical after this, and thusly a new habit was sparked: cocaine, which, as they say, is a hell of a drug.
There are so many great anecdotes from the likes of Farrah Jasmine Griffin, Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, Quincy Troupe, and so many more. Both his entire career and personal life are laid bare for all of us. It’s helped by a voice-over narration given by Carl Lumley as Miles Davis. I could write so much more about Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, but that would take all the fun out of seeing it yourself.
“…very likely the most inventive jazz artists of all time, who pushed the boundaries of the form over and over…”
One of the aspects I found most entertaining was that everyone he knew had an impersonation of Davis’s signature raspy voice. One of my favorite parts is when Quincy Jones is talking about the only time they played together on stage, when Davis was much older. He asked Davis to play the show with him, “I kept bugging him about it,” says Jones and then imitating Davis, “and he says ‘okay, m**********r, I’ll do it.” Another thing you find out in this film is his propensity for the words m**********r and bullshit—the latter of which he took none.
I highly recommend this decades-spanning, engrossing, hilarious, sad, and informative documentary to all music fans, whether you like Davis or not. At the end of the movie, you will come out wanting to listen to his music, to know what this tortured brilliant mind put out into the world. I was happy to know that Davis did overcome his problems with addiction and died with a woman who loved him. Her name is Jo Gellebrand, she’s a painter, and Miles got an interest in painting late in his life so they would paint together.
According to Gellibrand, before he got sick, while his career had an upsurge, but his health was declining, he said, “When God punishes you, it’s not that you don’t get what you want. It’s that you get everything that you want, but there’s no time left.” That quote encapsulates his personality perfectly, just as Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool encapsulates his incredible career as much as any film can in two hours.
"…his propensity for the words motherfucker and bullshit—the latter of which he took none."