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We Want Miles Cité de la Musique

David Britain writing for VINGT Paris

Hunched over his trumpet, eyes shut reclusively or hidden behind sunglasses, dead to everything other than the music. It is certainly an iconic image that has come to represent one of the greatest jazz musicians in history. Miles Davis himself hated being referred to as a ‘living legend’ as he believed it contradicted his tireless drive toward the new. However there is little doubt that he was one of the greatest jazz musicians in history.

If you have been on the Parisian metro in the last few days you can’t have missed the adverts for ‘We Want Miles’, a long overdue celebration and retrospective. The Cité de la Musique is devoting two large halls and a special website to the exhaustive exhibition, which traces his fascinating life and work from beginning to end.

The series of concerts is also impressive, as many of Miles’s former band members will be paying tribute to him through various performances leading up to Christmas. The climax is without doubt The Wayne Shorter Quartet playing this Thursday, 29th October. Shorter was a member of the Miles Davis band from 1964-1968 often known as the ‘second great quintet’ (featured in the video above) which would lay the foundations for Davis’s forays into electronic jazz and fusion in the 1970s.

In addition to the concerts and exhibition, this Saturday and Sunday is being filled with screenings of archive concert footage and documentaries. The highlight is Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur pour l’échafaud with music by Davis. Rather than composing numbers for each scene the entire soundtrack was recorded by improvising to the film as it was projected in the recording studio.

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