When Don Cheadle and Vince Wilburn, Jr., Miles Davis’s nephew, set out to capture Miles’s life on film, they had to figure out a “non-corny” way to do it. It had to be a film that Davis would have wanted to be associated with – not a traditional biopic. And they had to get the music right. Which meant that Cheadle, already a competent jazz sax player, had to learn to play the trumpet well enough to play actual Davis solos. The score used a mix of original Davis recordings (Cheadle is playing along, but you hear Miles), and original music composed by Robert Glasper, featuring the gifted young trumpeter Keyon Harrold. For the DownBeat cover story, I had extensive conversations with Cheadle, Wilburn, Herbie Hancock, Miles’s first wife Frances Taylor Davis, Glasper, and Harrold. I loved the film, and I think I’m in good company (see Manohla Dargis’s review in the New York Times). I’d love to know what you think. You can read it here.
My DownBeat Magazine cover story about the making of the new Don Cheadle film “Miles Ahead” has been mailed to subscribers and will be on newsstands next week. It includes interviews with director/star Cheadle, Herbie Hancock, composer Robert Glasper, and members of Miles’s family. Here’s the cover. To see a trailer for the film, go here: https://www.facebook.com/milesaheadfilm/
Born in Benin in West Africa, jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke has been Herbie Hancock’s guitarist for the past decade. He’s also a member of the all-star Blue Note 75th Anniversary Band with Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Kendrick Scott, Marcus Strickland and Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpeter Keyon Harrold subbed for Akinmusire on the voyage). Lanky and soft-spoken, Lionel speaks excellent English, accented by his native Fon and French. I had the pleasure of interviewing him during the Cunard/Blue Note Jazz at Sea Festival on board the Queen Mary 2 in November. Here are some highlights, as published in DownBeat.
All week long on the ship, people were talking about Lionel’s vocals as well as his guitar playing, especially his brilliant use of a harmonizing box to create a ghostly choir effect on “Message of Hope,” a song written by band-mate Hodge. Lionel told me that song will be included on the first album by the Blue Note 75th Anniversary Band (formerly known as “Our Point of View), to be released later this year.