Netflix Documentary “Miles Davis: Birth of Cool” Review (2020)

I write this post in hopes that it offers for valuable knowledge and inspiration for musicians and aspiring musicians alike. I enjoy writing these documentary reviews posts because it gives me the opportunity to pick the brains of other musicians and learn their stories and how their upbringing was like in relation to music (most impart of the reason that I feel that was something I did not get to experience in my own life and provides me guidance as an aspiring artist myself.. but I digress). I would like to share with ya’ll a little bit of the background I learned from Mile Davis’ documentary “Miles Davis: Birth of Cool”.

Davis studied at Juliard and while he appreciated the value of music theory, he also believed that music theory forces musicians to “lose the feeling in [their] playing”. Davis ended up dropping out his school when his father advised him, “You want to be your own man, have your own sound”. In my understanding of him, Davis played mostly by the feeling, heart, and soul– which I think was essential in making him the musician/ composer he is widely known for across his audiences. While Davis mingled with artists, he also find himself intrigued by intellects as well. Davis grew up during the bebop era, and during the onset of Manhattan Project of the 1940’s. While he played backup for big musicians at the time, he also sought to create his own sound in the community. Through his interaction with other musicians, Davis began to develop his own sound and image as a musician/ composer. To others, his gift was evident. As stated by another in the documentary, “creativity and genius in any kind of artistic expression don’t know nothing about age either you got it or you don’t. And being old is not going to help you get it”. Davis had a special kind of awareness and innovation to make him the well-versed musician that he was and is known for today. In the film, he stresses the importance of “[creating] in front of people, [leaning] on the stuff you don’t know; not what you know”. He helped to push the boundaries of jazz that led to his transformative years in his music career.

While Davis could be desribed as ‘musically gifted’, he was also just as savvy in the streets. Davis was well aware that the darkness of his skin “became not a liability, but an assent of cool” .. in other words, he was aware the public perceived him as a rebel, or an outcast who stepped out the boundaries of the norm to stand for something. He was super sharp in public and dressed super chic. Another note worthy to take from the film in relation to art was that “demons was the basis of art, art becomes a way of healing that gave him vulnerabilities”. As an ‘aspiring artist’ myself, I resonate with this statement. It helps to make sense of the chaos I experience when formulating and creating my art. It is my dark experiences that give voice to my creation, thus giving me a voice that is my own in my art.

I would also like to end this post saying that many of those who witness or heard Davis playing always found that he had something new to say in his performance, which made way for his masterpieces. He had a high level of dedication to the music that gave birth to ‘cool’ it was a blend of classic ideas with jazz. Davis’ legacy was “to move the music forward have it go to places it hasn’t gone before”. Which is what many felt and believed in the presence of Davis’ music. Whether or not you are familiar with his life, would you consider yourself a fan of Davis?

If you have been following my blog ShopCoa for a while, you would know that I enjoy finding gems such as these and sharing it with the world. lf ya’ll enjoy content such as this, please like to post and comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time x Lo

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