Miles Davis (1926-1991) was a jazz composer, trumpet player and multi-instrumentalist. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians of the twentieth century and is seen as the embodiment of what is “cool”. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s documentary about the life of this legendary artist brings the viewer close to his sound, fame and his intriguing personality.
The film shows what an innovator and visionary Miles Davis was, based on archive footage and photos, unique studio material and interviews with Wayne Shorter, Quincy Jones, Juliette Gréco, Carlos Santana, Marcus Miller and Herbie Hancock, among others. He introduced new music trends and built bridges between different generations. From bebop to cool jazz, funk and jazz fusion to rock and roll and even hip hop, including musical influences from India and Flamenco, everything in the life of Miles Davis revolved around music. He wanted to cross boundaries and live on his own terms. It made him a star and also brought lows.
Davis was hard to live with, especially for the people who loved him the most. Time and again, in music and in daily life, Miles broke with conventions and when he felt that his own work represented a new convention, he changed it again. Miles’ talent for improvisation, his bold disregard for tradition, his clear vision, his relentless drive and constant hunger for new experiences, inspired fellow musicians to develop their own talent and identity. A cultural icon for several generations of listeners.
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool premiered at Sundance 2019 and is a fascinating portrait that brings the legend of Davis further to life.