Monday, July 11, 2016

Miles on Monday: Betty Davis' lost sessions released, reissue news, and more

With no post here last Monday due to the Independence Day holiday, here's an extra-large serving of Miles Davis news from the last two weeks:

* Perhaps the biggest story of the fortnight involving the trumpeter was the news that a set of previously unreleased recording sessions he produced for his ex-wife, singer Betty Davis, has been issued as Betty Davis: The Columbia Years 1968-1969 by the label Light In The Attic Records.

Co-produced by Davis and his longtime collaborator Teo Macero, the album (pictured) features much of the band that would appear a couple of years later on Davis' album Bitches Brew, including guitarist John McLaughlin, keyboardist Herbie Hancock, bassist Harvey Brooks, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and organist Larry Young, plus two of Jimi Hendrix' musical associates, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox.

Press coverage of the release has been extensive, with stories and reviews appearing everywhere from NPR to the alt-rock magazine Pitchfork to

* Meanwhile, a box set of Davis' own music, Miles Davis At Newport 1955–1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4, was named the winner in the Historical Album category of the 2016 DownBeat Critics Poll.

* The recent reissue of Davis' album Agharta on LP by the label Music on Vinyl was reviewed by London Jazz News.

* Also in London, theater artist Robert Lepage's performance piece Needles and Opium, a surreal meditation from 1991 about Miles Davis, Jean Cocteau and various types of addiction, was revived for a production at the Barbican that featured actor Wellesley Robertson III as Davis.

* Also revived is Elevator to the Gallows, the 1958 Louis Malle film that features a soundtrack by Davis, as a newly restored version will be shown next month at Film Forum in New York City in advance of a potential wider release.

* In other Davis-on-film news, Elmore magazine reviewed Everything's Beautiful, keyboardist Robert Glasper's tribute to Davis that serves as a companion piece to his work on the score for Don Cheadle's movie Miles Ahead; and the Massillon, OH Independent ran a feature story about the experiences of an local Davis fan who worked as an extra on the film, which was shot in Cincinnati. Miles Ahead comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, July 19.

* Last but not least, "Miles in May," an episode of All Music Television's program The Jazz Creative recorded earlier this year in Los Angeles and featuring Glasper and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin, has been posted online, and can been seen in the embedded video window below.

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