Tag: Miles Davis

“Betty: They Say I’m Different” Documentary About Funk Music Pioneer Betty Davis to Premiere at Red Bull Music Festival in NY

The trailblazing funk singer, bandleader and producer Betty Davis dropped out of public for decades. A new documentary, “Betty: They Say I’m Different,” tells her story. (Credit: Robert Brenner)

For a few short years in the 1970s, no one made funk as raw as Betty Davis did. She sang bluntly about sex on her own terms, demanding satisfaction with feral yowls and rasps, her voice slicing across the grooves that she wrote and honed as her own bandleader and producer. Her stage clothes were shiny, skimpy, futuristic fantasies; her Afro was formidable.

A major label, Island, geared up a big national push for her third album, “Nasty Gal,” in 1975. But mainstream radio didn’t embrace her, and Island rejected her follow-up recordings. Not long afterward, she completely dropped out of public view for decades.

Ms. Davis’s voice now — speaking, not singing — resurfaces in Betty: They Say I’m Different,” an impressionistic documentary that will have its United States theatrical premiere on Wednesday at the Billie Holiday Theater in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, as part of the Red Bull Music Festival. The film includes glimpses of virtually the only known concert footage of Ms. Davis in her lascivious, head-turning prime, performing at a 1976 French rock festival. The present-day Ms. Davis is shown mostly from behind and heard in voice-over, though there is one poignant close-up of her face.

This month Ms. Davis, 72, gave a rare interview by telephone from her home near Pittsburgh to talk about the film and her music. After years of entreaties from and conversations with its director, Phil Cox, and producer, Damon Smith, she agreed to cooperate on “Betty: They Say I’m Different” because, she said, “I figured it would be better to have them cover me when I was alive than when I was dead.”

Mr. Cox said, via Skype from England, “Betty doesn’t want sympathy, and she’s found her own space now. To me, that is just as interesting as that woman she was in the 1970s. It’s the antithesis of the age we live in, where everybody wants to be on social media all the time.”

Ms. Davis has longtime fans from the ’70s and newer ones who have discovered her in reissues and through hip-hop samples. They have clung to a catalog and a persona that were musically bold, verbally shocking and entirely self-created. Long before the current era of explicit lyrics, Ms. Davis was cackling through songs like “Nasty Gal” — “You said I love you every way but your way/And my way was too dirty for you” — and “He Was a Big Freak,” which boasts, “I used to whip him/I used to beat him/Oh, he used to dig it.” She still won’t reveal who was, or whether there was, a real-life model for songs like those.

“I wrote about love, really, and all the levels of love,” she said. That emphatically included sexuality. “When I was writing about it, nobody was writing about it. But now everybody’s writing about it. It’s like a cliché.”

Ms. Davis was born Betty Mabry in Durham, North Carolina, in 1945, and she grew up there and in Pittsburgh. She headed to New York City in the early 1960s, when she was 17, and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She supported herself as a model and a club manager; she reveled in the city’s night life, meeting figures like Andy Warhol, Sly Stone, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Continue reading ““Betty: They Say I’m Different” Documentary About Funk Music Pioneer Betty Davis to Premiere at Red Bull Music Festival in NY”

Don Cheadle Tackling Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s 1st Black Millionaire

Don Cheadle (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

article by Borys Kit via hollywoodreporter.com

Don Cheadle has acquired the film and TV rights to “Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire” by Shane White, with plans to adapt the 2015 book as a starring vehicle. Steven Baigelman, who worked with Cheadle on the Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead,” is reteaming with the actor and will write the script for the drama.

Cheadle will produce and star. “Prince of Darkness” sheds light on the obscure story of Hamilton, who was mentioned in an obituary for Cornelius Vanderbilt as the tycoon’s true rival. White’s book details the rise of Hamilton as he is chased out of Haiti and becomes a broker and land agent in 19th century New York, his success prickling both white and black society.

He broke many taboos of the times, including marrying a white woman and owning stock in rail companies on whose trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. When Hamilton died, obituaries at the time called him the richest black man in America. The book has been awarded the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic’s best book prize and the 2016 New York City Book Award.

To read more, go to: Don Cheadle Tackling Story of Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter

R.I.P. Grammy Award Winning Soul Artist Billy Paul

Billy Paul At BAM R&B Festival
Billy Paul (Source: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images / Getty)

article by Kellee Terrell via hellobeautiful.com

On Sunday morning, Philadelphia-born soul singer Billy Paul passed away in New Jersey home after battling cancer, his manager Beverly Gay confirmed to NBC 10 Philadelphia. Paul was 81.

On the “Me and Mrs. Jones” singer’s website, the following message was posted:

We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.  We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon that helped pioneered today’s R&B music. Billy will be truly missed.

Born in 1934, Paul started singing at 11 years-old and early on his career, he performed at several clubs and college campuses with several music legends, including Charlie “Bird” Parker, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Roberta Flack, NBC 10 wrote. Serving in the army with Elvis Presley, in 1968 Paul released his debut album “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club.”

One of his most popular songs, “Me and Mrs. Jones” debuted in 1972 helping him become a household name and a constant on record players across the country. That song reached number one of the Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy award. Overall, during his amazing career, Paul released a total of 15 albums.

Don Cheadle’s Directorial Debut “Miles Ahead” to Close New York Film Festival

Miles Ahead

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Don Cheadle’s directorial debut Miles Ahead will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night selection of the upcoming 53rd New York Film Festival (September 25 – October 11). Cheadle, who co-wrote the script, stars as the legendary musician opposite Emayatzy Corinealdi and Ewan McGregor.

New York Film Festival Director andMiles Ahead Poster NYFF Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said: “I admire Don’s film because of all the intelligent decisions he’s made about how to deal with Miles, but I was moved—deeply moved—by Miles Ahead for other reasons. Don knows, as an actor, a writer, a director, and a lover of Miles’ music, that intelligent decisions and well-planned strategies only get you so far, that finally it’s your own commitment and attention to every moment and every detail that brings a movie to life. ‘There is no longer much else but ourselves, in the place given us,’ wrote the poet Robert Creeley. ‘To make that present, and actual … is not an embarrassment, but love.’ That’s the core of art. Miles Davis knew it, and Don Cheadle knows it.”

“I am happy that the selection committee saw fit to invite us to the dance,” added Cheadle. It’s very gratifying that all the hard work that went into the making of this film, from every person on the team, has brought us here. Miles’ music is all-encompassing, forward-leaning, and expansive. He changed the game time after time, and New York is really where it all took off for him. Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center… feels very ‘right place, right time.’ Very exciting.”

The film chronicles Davis, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, through his crazy days in the late  ’70s. Holed up in his Manhattan apartment, wracked with pain from a variety of ailments and fiending for the next check from his record company, dodging sycophants and industry executives, he is haunted by memories of old glories and humiliations and of his years with his great love Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi).

Ewan MacGregor plays Dave Brill, the “reporter” who cons his way into Miles’ apartment. The film was produced by Don Cheadle, Pamela Hirsch, Lenore Zerman. Along with Daniel Wagner, Robert Barnum, Vince Willburn and Daryl Porter.

article by Denise Petski via deadline.com

Don Cheadle Bringing Miles Davis’ Life To The Big Screen [PHOTO]

don-cheadle-miles-davis

Celebrated actor Don Cheadle has always had a fascination with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis. Thanks to a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, Cheadle will be able to make his directorial debut about the life of one of his favorite artists.

The film titled “Miles Ahead” will focus on Davis’ return to music after a five year absence many call his “silent period.” Miles Davis’ marriage to his first wife Frances Taylor Davis will also be examined in the film.

Cheadle gave fans a first look of the film through an exclusive with Entertainment Weekly Magazine. The photo is of Cheadle in costume as Davis.

article by Jonathan Hailey via theurbandaily.com

Miles Davis’ Birthday (Today) Celebrated with Official Unveiling of “Miles Davis Way” on New York’s Upper West Side

miles-davis

The late Miles Davis (1926-1991) was an icon who changed the world of jazz and music forever. This Memorial Day, also the birthday of the beloved trumpeter, New York City will honor his legacy with a block party celebrating the official unveiling of “Miles Davis Way” (West 77th Street between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue). This location is the site of Davis’ infamous, former brownstone, where he lived for nearly a quarter of a century and created some of his best music.

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I recently had the opportunity to chat with Miles Davis’ son Erin and nephew Vince Wilburn, Jr. for my podcast Whine At 9. The cousins shared their feelings about this special upcoming honor, their own music careers, and their family’s role in keeping the Miles Davis legacy alive.

Find out more about the NYC Memorial Day Block Party and Unveiling of “Miles Davis Way”.

When it comes to New York City’s block party celebration of his father, Miles’ son Erin admits, “We couldn’t be more excited–we’re just trying to wrap our heads around the whole situation.” He and cousin Vince, along with sister Cheryl Davis oversee Miles Davis Properties LLC and are intimately involved with maintaining the integrity and creativity of the music great’s legacy. The family plans to be in New York City to participate in this special honor.

Continue reading “Miles Davis’ Birthday (Today) Celebrated with Official Unveiling of “Miles Davis Way” on New York’s Upper West Side”

Indie Music Publisher Kobalt Gets Into the Miles Davis Business

Miles Davis

In a deal that reflects both the continuing initiative of the Miles Davis estate and the growing mini-major status of the Kobalt Music Group, the two parties recently struck a deal for the independent music publisher to administer the entire catalog of the late jazz icon. Kobalt’s global synch licensing and creative teams will take over worldwide administration of Davis’ music, previously overseen by the Universal Music Group, and aims to “develop new creative opportunities” as well as tap Davis’ works for use in films, television, advertising and other media. Kobalt’s clients include Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Thom Yorke and such jazz artists as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Pat Metheny.

“As a jazz enthusiast and sax player myself, listening to his music has been a major part of my life,” said Willard Ahdritz, founder and CEO of Kobalt, in the statement. “So it’s especially meaningful to me and an honor for everyone at Kobalt to be working with the Miles Davis Estate and their great team including Erin Davis, Cheryl Davis, Vince Wilburn, Jr. and Darryl Porter.”  For its part, Miles Davis Properties LLC called Kobalt a “forward-thinking” company that “puts the artists’ needs at the forefront.”

The Davis family has been quite busy as of late, overseeing several reissues the the jazz/fusion pioneer, including the upcoming Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3, being released March 25 via Columbia/Legacy; a lavish hardcover book of paintings by Davis called Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork published by Insight Editions; and a Davis biopic titled Kill the Trumpet Player directed, co-written by and starring Don Cheadle as the man with the horn that’s said to be scheduled for production in the coming year.

article by Steve Chagollan via Variety.com

Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis Biopic a Go; Co-Stars Revealed

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The long-planned biopic of Miles Davis, with Don Cheadle playing the innovative trumpet player, is finally set in stone.  BiFrost Pictures told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it will finance and produce the film, titled Kill the Trumpet Player, with Cheadle also making his directorial debut. Production will begin in June 2014.  The production company said the movie will focus on when Davis temporarily retired from making music and then re-emerged in 1979. The script is also written by Cheadle along with Steven Baigelman.

Ewan McGregor will co-star as a Rolling Stone reporter, and Zoe Saldana will play Frances Davis, the trumpet player’s former wife. Davis collaborator Herbie Hancock will be involved in the production.  Cheadle, 48, currently stars on Showtime’s series House of Lies. His other acting credits include Iron Man 3, Flight, Ocean’s Eleven and Hotel Rwanda.  Davis died in 1991 at age 65.

article via eurweb.com

R.I.P. Jazz Icon, Grammy Award-Winning Musician and Composer George Duke

GEORGE DUKE | Aug. 5 (age 67) | The legendary keyboardist released more than 40 albums during his four-decade-plus career. He memorably collaborated with artists such as Michael Jackson, Jill Scott and Miles Davis.
GEORGE DUKE | The legendary keyboardist released more than 40 albums during his four-decade-plus career. He memorably collaborated with artists such as Michael Jackson, Jill Scott and Miles Davis. Jean-Christophe Bott, AP

Jazz musician George Duke died Monday in Los Angeles at age 67.  A pioneer in the funk and R&B genres, he had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, according to his label Concord Music Group, which confirmed his death.  “The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father’s friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming,” said his son, Rashid Duke, in a statement. “Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support.”

Born in San Rafael, Calif., Duke aspired to a music career from an early age, after his mother took him to a Duke Ellington concert.  “I remember seeing this guy in a white suit, playing this big thing, which I later found out was a piano,” Duke told USA TODAY in 1997. “He had all these guys around him, and he was waving his hands conducting, and he spoke very intelligently and seemed to be having a good time. And his name was Duke, and my last name was Duke. I told my mom, ‘I want to be him.’ That moment in time set the stage for me.”

Over the course of his four-decade-plus career, the Grammy Award-winning keyboardist put out more than 40 albums and collaborated with artists such as Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Jill Scott and Michael Jackson. His music was also sampled by Kanye West, Daft Punk and Common.  “It’s a wonderful thing that has happened under the banner of jazz,” Duke told USA TODAY of his career longevity. “In R&B and rock, when you are over a certain age, they say goodbye to you. But in jazz, you just kind of level off and continue to gain respect, so long as you keep your integrity.”

Duke’s final album, DreamWeaver, was released July 16 and made its debut at No. 1 on Billboard‘s contemporary jazz chart. It was his first new music since the death of his wife, Corine, last year.  To learn more about Duke’s life and music, click here.  Also, watch a video of Duke recording his classic “Dukey Stick” below:

article by Patrick Ryan via usatoday.com

Miles Davis’ NYC Brownstone Commemorated with Cultural Medallion

miles davis cultural medallion
The Miles Davis Cultural Medallion

The beautiful New York City brownstone once an incubator for Bitches Brew,” breathed an “Essence of Miles.”

What took place was a commemoration of Miles Davis through the installation of a “cultural medallion” on the brownstone at 312 West 77 Street, Manhattan.  Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chairperson of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center opened the dedication where all hands were on deck.

Miles DavisOld friends and family spoke at the event.  Author-Biographer Quincy Troupe followed reading excerpts from his works describing Miles.  Next up was composer/ arranger son of Jimmy Heath, Mtume, who expressed his experiences with the “genius.” Others who spoke were Lee Konitz, Gary Bartz, Wallace Roney, Phil Schaap, George Coleman and Miles’ nephew from Los Angeles drummer Vince Wilburn, Jr.  Also present were Bill Saxton owner of Harlem’s Bill’s Place, Noah Evans son of arranger Gil Evans, Juini Booth bassist for Thelonious Monk and SunRa plus Sandra Trim-DaCosta (former Director of Marketing, Columbia Records/SONY Music) who worked closely with Miles for several years, after being assigned by the late legendary music industry executive Dr. George Butler (former Sr. Vice President, A&R, Columbia Records) to develop the overall marketing campaign for Miles and his recordings for the label … Dr. Butler played a significant role in the jazz icon’s return to the music scene and we are forever grateful to him for his tenacity and vision for Miles.

Of course, music filled the air and that was provided by Wallace Roney on trumpet, Gary Bartz on alto sax with Monty Alexander on keys.  They performed a swinging version of Miles’ infamous “If I Were a Bell” a tune often used on the seventies hit The Cosby Show whenever a doorbell was written into the script. The trio was backed by the Advanced Jazz Combo at Harlem School of the Arts a brilliant young quartet with Matthew Whitaker on keys, Frank Rankin on Guitar, Dominic Gervais on drums and Oren Maximov on bass under the directorship of D.D. Jackson.  An elegant set was provided by these young men prior to the event. All those present knew, contrary to popular belief, on this day… “Miles Smiles.”

article via eurweb.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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