The Jazzcat

Archive for July, 2010




We Definitely Want Miles!

by on Jul.06, 2010, under News

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“We Want Miles”
At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts April 30 – August 29, 2010

Miles Davis, much more than a musician, a symbol, a legend, an icon for the music, Miles represents a thought, an ever changing cognitive mass of creative inspiration bounded by no walls, no rules only by the limits of his own imagination which constantly expanded with each new sound.

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Paris and Montreal were two very special places for Miles. Paris was an influence de amour and played a part in the initiation of new music sparked by those feelings of love, human equality and appreciation. Montreal represented a return to creativity after a period of dormant activity and served as a “Re-Birth”, so to speak, to new streams of consciousness as the savior returned to the light!

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Both Paris and now Montreal have been the first to feature the entire exhibit of

“We Want Miles”

a multi media retrospective of the life, the music, the periods of change and inspiration that took music to new heights, new direction and new meaning in the lives of past, present and future generations.

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Simply uttereing  the word  “Miles” sparks multifaceted conversations about life and music. The name represents an association and an aspiration to be or to have knowledge. There are those who use the word Miles through personal association, to reference memorable intimate musical experiences, as an education in the growth of onesown musical abilities, as a poignant moment of change in ones musical philosophy, as a façade to pass for knowledge but, what ever the reference, the word “Miles” is an institution in knowledge and sound that does and will continue to permeate through the ideals of modern contemporary music.

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The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal represents one of the many major changes in the life of the legend, which is why it is so fitting that “We Want Miles” is being hosted at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

I knew that the Miles exhibit was in Montreal and there was no way that I was going to miss an opportunity to experience the totality of Miles Davis from musical inception to greatness. I called Vince Wilburn, nephew of Miles Davis and said, “ Neph, I am here! Plug me in!” Little did I know that I was about to embark upon an over abundant Miles Davis multimedia experience. I mean from film, to photographs, documents, statues, art, letters, instruments, cloths, records you name it and it was represented in full factual detail.

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The museum was closed on Monday but I was afforded a private VIP tour of the exhibit. Yes, no one else there except for Miles and me! I spoke and met Sabrina Merceron, the head of public relations at the museum and a pure spectacle of authentic French Canadian beauty in her own right. Stunned by the sight of sheer loveliness and welcomed with an invitation of such warmth set the perfect platform to shed all other thoughts of the outside world and step into the fascinating, immortalized, ever-changing, spinning sphere of life, music and Miles!

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 Oh my, Oh Miles! There are several rooms on the third floor each representing different periods of evolution throughout the life and career of Miles Davis. Interestingly enough, my journey did not start at the beginning but at the end. I stumbled upon the gift shop first and entered the exhibit through the last room. As I pulled back the curtain and entered, I had the joy of a 5 year old getting a new bike at Christmas! Enamored by sound, color along with still and moving images of Miles in all directions, I was instantly inundated with my associations along with new media and a larger that life size statue in the form of the legend.

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Click on the Miles statue!

Red, the color of mystique seems to be a common denominator. Miles expresses himself in many ways and there always appears to be a splash of fire everywhere, the Village Vanguard door to enter the pathways of the Miles Davis express. Miles Davis, MD, music direction, mystic definition, multiple dimensions, mystic demeanor, massive dialog, mad dissonance, melodic deconstruction, however you put the two letters together, you get a shade of the MD perception.

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Miles was a never-ending mass of combustible, alluring, creativity whose persona was free which allowed his mind to think and compose outside of the chains of Western rules. If you look at the eyes in the many photos of Miles here at the “We Want Miles” exhibit, you don’t get a glimpse into his world but you do get a sense that he has already looked past yours and his vision was always our future.  His search for something greater in the music is captured on record, paper and film at so many wonderful key and crucial stages, which have become synonymous with our history. At the Museum, you can witness these artifacts and in retrospect connect all the dots, see, feel and hear the influences that lead to a lifes worth of great art, a gift left for the world to enjoy.

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A painting of Miles is not just one painting. There are a multitude of expressions and meanings that are manifested as each section forms its own array of consciousness. Just like the music, the inception of thought and color fire off a synapse that sparks fertility and births more. Davis was never just a musician, he was thought, and he spent his life successfully formulating them. With success comes cognitive invincibility and the projectile of imagination becomes limitless.

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 With the label, the producers, the musicians, the critics and the public all enamored by the power of the creative mystique, visionary genius, alluring sound and daunting personality, they basically paved a yellow brick road of Carte blanch possibilities making Miles the musical “Neo” of a generation. Like it, love it, understand it, perplexed by it, theorize, idolize it all you want, we are all consumed by Miles.

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You are able to witness and feel these formulations, as you yourself become the thought that literally passes to the next phase of your existence as you enter the next section of the exhibit. Since I started out in reverse order, I am Miles as I turn around and follow the path back towards my musical infancy in search of the “Blue Flame”.

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From global icon, “On the Corner”, Electric Miles Rock Distortion, Miles Smiles Controlled Freedom, Miles Ahead for Columbia, Out of the Cool Invention of Self Loathing back to St. Louis and his search for the Bird or visa versa, the journey along the dash between 1926 and 1991 is an extraordinary glimpse into not only the life of Miles but also your own parallel reality.

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 Spend some time and you will experience the music, the creativity, the invincibility, the responsibility, the pride, the pain, the solitude, the desire and the love of a man who changed the music and the world.

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YES!

“We Want Miles”

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LeRoy Downs

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