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The Miles Davis Story

40 customer reviews

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Product Description

A remarkable look at one of the most influential figures in jazz, from Birth of the Cool to his collaborations with legendary pianist Gil Evans to his controversial 1970s albums and beyond. 2002/b&w-color/120 min/NR.

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Trumpeter-bandleader Miles Davis (1926-91) was a catalyst for the major innovations in post-bop, cool jazz, hard-bop, and jazz-fusion, and his wispy and emotional trumpet tones were some of the most evocative sounds ever heard. He was also one of the most identifiable and misunderstood pop icons of the 20th century. This engrossing British documentary shows the complex layers of this magnificent and mercurial artist. Through rare footage and interviews, we learn of Davis's middle-class upbringing and his early days with bop legends Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The documentary bluntly deals with Davis's narcotic nadir and his rise from the depths to become a bona fide jazz icon in the mid-'50s to late '60s. But the most penetrating and poignant portraits of Davis come from musicians who played with and were influenced by him, including Shirley Horn, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, and Keith Jarrett.

Outstanding musical selections include modal masterpieces "So What" and "Blue in Green," the haunting soundtrack to the 1957 French film Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, his romantic rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," and his collaborations with arranger Gil Evans. The most surprising aspects of Davis's personality that emerge from this film are his shyness, vulnerability, and, yes, humility. As he said himself, "Don't call me a legend. Call me Miles Davis." --Eugene Holley Jr.


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Product Details

  • Actors: George Avakian, Ian Carr, Don Carter (II), Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony
  • DVD Release Date: November 26, 2002
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007CVRL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,028 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Miles Davis Story" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By J. Lund on December 2, 2002
Format: DVD
This fast-paced two-hour documentary is probably the best introduction to the life of Miles Davis available, considerably more expansive than the hour-long 1986 PBS documentary MILES AHEAD. Nonetheless, being that this product is a companion to the 2-CD career overview ESSENTIAL MILES DAVIS, that's a warning to Davis fans not to expect too much in the way of details or extensive video footage. STORY provides a balanced presentation of his musical and personal life, from his upbringing in East St. Louis to his death in 1991...somewhat ala Ken Burns' JAZZ series (sans Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch, of course), but much more concise due to the time constraints. Those fans who are familiar with Miles' career won't find much new here, especially if you've read John Szwed's new bio SO WHAT. For one, Miles' succession of musical achievements are alluded to but not examined in depth.
As with Szwed's book, STORY benefits by the participation of family members, from ex-wives/partners Irene Cawthorn & Frances Davis to daughter Cheryl and youngest son Erin (who briefly joined Miles' band in 1990). For the most part there is an uplifting sense of joy in the retracing of Miles' steps offered by both these participants and an impressive but too-short list of musicians newly interviewed (from Jimmy Cobb to Marcus Miller). Many still-living sidepersons are conspicuous by their absence: one wonders did they decline to be interviewed...or were they not asked? In addition, STORY lifts some interview segments from the 1984 CBS promo video, the above-mentioned PBS documentary, and other 1980s sources...so the voice of Miles and other greats who either have passed (e.g., Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie) or unavailable for this latest project (e.g., Keith Jarrett), are heard.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mag Spyridon Kleitsas on January 9, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This DVD is amazing, offers an insight to Miles' career and personal life, from the people who lived and worked with him and of course from Miles himself. For all of those who might have read books on Miles' life, this DVD will not give you so much new information and facts, but what this DVD will do, is to offer you plenty of visualizations on things you might have read or heard.
This DVD though, as the title explicitly states is THE MILES DAVIS STORY and not Miles Davis Live In ...... , or whatever else, so I dont unserstand how some people were expecting live performances. This is a documentary and not a concert. What you see is what you get.
I really think that this is a great documentary, and everybody who wants to think of him/herself as a serious Jazz fan should realy own this DVD.
Five stars without hesitation.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 15, 2003
Format: DVD
I'm wondering if all the people who gave this DVD a low rating because it contains "too much talking and not enough music" understand the meaning of the word "documentary?" This is not a concert performance, it is a documentary. As such, it did exactly what it should have. It tells the story of Miles Davis from his early youth to his untimely death. I bought it exactly for that reason and was not disappointed. Perhaps the critical reviewers would have saved themselves a great deal of frustration if they had simply read the description of the DVD on the back cover. Talk about dumb!!!
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128 of 163 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2003
Format: DVD
I am so glad that I rented this disc from my local video store before I bought it. All Sony has done is buy the rights to some British television documentary and dump it straight to DVD. If you enjoy listening to other people talk about Miles and his music, this disc is for you. If you enjoy watching Miles play his music, this disc is not for you.
I would pay $100 for a DVD that contained a complete, uninterrupted performance from any one of three of Miles bands shown on this disc:
1) The 1959 television special featuring the Kind of Blue band and Gil Evans
2) 1967 footage of the second great quintet featuring Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams
3) 1969 footage of the "lost" quintet featuring Jack DeJohnnette, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Wayne Shorter.
You see glimpses of each these performances on this disc, but they are cut short by the endless stream of talking heads giving their "insights" into Miles's music: "Miles sure was moody", "Miles sure was a fine dresser", "Miles sure was violent in his personal life, but he sure did play some beautiful ballads on stage", etc. etc. In the words of Miles himself, so what. The only persons whose comments about Miles's music I would like to hear are either dead (John Coltrane, Tony Williams) or unwilling to participate in idiotic exercises like this t.v. special (Wayne Shorter).
Please, Sony, release a DVD containing nothing but uninterrupted footage of Miles playing his music live. This disc is a frustrating waste of time for someone who cares about the music, not the myth that has grown up around the man.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on December 24, 2003
Format: DVD
Many below have complained of the lack of performance footage. There are some samplings from each phase of Miles' muscial career, however this is not meant to be a concert film. This is great documentary film making with interviews from numerous musicians, friends, family,lovers , etc that really gets to the essence of who Miles Davis was and most importantly shows clearly the influence this man had on jazz music in the second half of the 20th century. The testimony of so many jazz greats speaks for itself. Miles Davis' life was remarkable in many aspects and is certainly deserving of this type of treatment. I thoroughly enjoyed this and am happy to own a copy. Miles' recordings are there for the listening. This film enhances my understanding of the individual responsible for some of the best music ever created.
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