Much of this centered around his memories of his wife Francis. His drug use (both recreational and prescribed by doctors) caused him to drive her away, and sent his marriage into ruins. There were two scenes that were telling. The first was after he was beaten by the police in front of a club he was playing, after returning home, he tells Taylor to stop dancing. She is outraged by this, but eventually does so, to her eventual regret. This would seem to have been the beginning of the end of their marriage. But there was a hint at the catastrophe to come earlier in the story, after Davis and Taylor made love. She gets out of bed and, in post-coital ecstasy, begins to dance. Davis watches her a moment, then gets up, goes to the other room, picks up his trumpet and begins to play. The surface interpretation of this is that her dancing inspired this piece of music. But it’s possible that his gesture was a desire to escape any aspect of her that wasn’t focused on him. He couldn’t handle Taylor having or being something on her own.
In the end, while Davis clearly had no fear of man or beast, it was the fear of the uncomfortable truths about himself that drove him into darkness.
But the story has a happy ending. Expect no spoilers here. Suffice it to say that he emerges from his Dark Night of the Soul into a new inner and outer realm of both renewed musical genius, and something resembling inner peace.
Don Cheadle took upon himself a Herculean task of directing and starring in a biopic based on one of the most iconic figures in American music: Miles Davis. He co-wrote the script with Steven Baigelman, Stephen J. Rivele, and Christopher Wilkinson. The film also stars Emayatzy Corinealdi (as Francis Taylor), Evan McGregor (as Dave Brill), Michael Stuhlbarg (as Harper Hamilton), and Keith Stanfield (as Junior). Music composed by: Robert Glasper. The film takes its title from Davis’ 1957 album of the same name.
Maybe it’s only fitting that one of the most influential musicians of all time had a hand in the creation of electronic music, even though it was nowhere near his scene. The oeuvre of Miles Davisis, yet, still cherished predominantly by hard bop fiends and fusion fans. Although he spent the majority of his career playing variations of those styles, there is one record that stands out from the rest of his catalogue by virtue of its mission, accomplishments, and subsequent oblivion from accolade and popular memory: On the Corner.
The record, released in 1972, was Davis’ attempt to lure young, African-American city dwellers back to the jazz they had forsaken for other genres (among which was the funk that his own fusion escapades helped to engender). Although the record features a variety of canonical jazz musicians (Jack Dejohnette, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, among others), much of the music is anchored by rhythms very similar to today’s drum-n-bass. Davis and his producers, themselves innovators in electronic music, experimented with looping and splicing tracks, making OTC one of the first records to prominently feature these now-widespread audio manipulation techniques. Interestingly, Davis himself is only sparingly on the record, and then mostly as background noise.
Electro friends probably opt to stay away from Miles Davis’ music just as much as his followers tend to shy away from the electro scene. Unfortunately, OTC has been tucked away into the back of Davis’ catalogue, garnering little play and even less discussion as to its place in the jazz canon. It is fair to say that this record has had minimal impact on jazz, at least compared to Davis’ other records. I see that comparison as problematic in and of itself; this record shouldn’t be talked about as jazz or by jazz people. Electro fans owe it to themselves to check out this precursor to any and all of their favorite bands, even if it bears the name of that guy their high school band director was always harping on; this is, simply, one of the first, and thus by extension, one of the most important, accessible electronic music records ever made.