By Harlan McCarthy
The Scene staff
It seems to be the year of the trumpeter at the Tivoli Theatre.
After concluding its run of “Born to be Blue,” starring Ethan Hawke as 1950s trumpeter Chet Baker, the University City venue is now screening “Miles Ahead,” which follows legendary jazz trumpeter and Alton, Ill., native Miles Davis. He is played by Don Cheadle, an Emmy Award-winning actor who directed and co-wrote the movie.
The Tivoli is showing “Miles Ahead,” which follows legendary jazz trumpeter and Alton, Ill., native Miles Davis. He is played by Don Cheadle, an Emmy Award-winning actor who directed and co-wrote the movie.
“Miles Ahead,” named for Davis’ 1957 album, tells his comeback story, as reported by former Rolling Stone journalist Dave Braden (played by “Star Wars” actor Ewan McGregor). It covers the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, including challenges by many famous black musicians related to ownership and royalties from their music.
“Miles Ahead” also portrays Davis’ struggle with drugs while trying to maintain his musical career. Both movies are rated R.
In reviewing “Born to be Blue,” New York Times critic Stephen Holden called Hawke’s performance “extraordinary,” adding that “this glamorous enigma becomes a credible, if pathetic character who lives for only two things: to play the trumpet and to shoot heroin. He likes sex, too, especially when he’s high.”
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote that Cheadle’s movie “is a disarming exception to the usual. It’s squirrelly and exuberant, and it moves. Even with what you might call a necessary evil at its center … the film responds in storytelling terms to its subject’s jagged edges and dislocated state of mind. Cheadle, who stars in a role he was born to play, clearly is mad for Miles Davis, the artist, but he’s not a sap (at least not entirely) about Miles Davis, the everything else.”
Davis was a jazz pioneer for more than four decades, expanding from his beebop start to jazz fusion ending. Davis influenced legendry musicians Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane, to name a few. Davis’ influence on music can be seen as his sound was transformed into soul, pop, R&B, rap and funk.
Baker was a world-renowned trumpeter whose career and personal life were destroyed by drug addiction. Baker was a pioneer of the West Coast jazz scene who played alongside Grammy-winning saxophonist Stan Getz.
Both movies are a must-see for any jazz enthusiast, lover of music or true-story fanatic.