ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Miles Davis Biopic Chronicles the Lost Years of the Jazz Genius

Updated on January 4, 2021
Robert J Sodaro profile image

Robert J. Sodaro is an American-born writer, editor, and digital graphic artist who loves writing about comics, movies, and literature.

Miles Ahead

A glimpse into Miles Davis' "Lost Years."
A glimpse into Miles Davis' "Lost Years." | Source


Miles Ahead: Rated R” (1h. 40 m.)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Don Cheadle, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances Taylor, Emayatzy Corinealdi

Directed by: Don Cheadle

The Birth of Cool

Miles Dewey Davis, III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz musician, bandleader, and composer who was widely considered to be one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century. In spite of his distaste for the word, Davis was at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music (he preferred calling it social music), including cool jazz in the late ‘40s, hard bop in the mid-‘50s, modal jazz and orchestral jazz in the late ‘50s, post-bop in the early ‘60s, and jazz fusion in the late ‘60s through the ‘80s.

Miles Ahead

Miles Ahead
Miles Ahead
This is the Original recording reissued, and remastered, with extra tracks included.

A Musical Genius

Given that he was such a musical genius and innovative frontrunner it was baffling to many that in 1975 he essentially walked off the stage and all but vanished form the musical scene (until the mid ‘80s). It was during this 5-year period that Miles was reported to have suffered from severe physical and mental pain, and probably just exhaustion as well. Some feel that Miles had created, and changed music so much over the previous 30-year period that he was probably just burnt out. It is this time period — the “Lost Years” — on which that director Don Cheadle focused his film.

Miles Ahead Official Trailer #1

"Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself."

—Miles Davis

The Lost Years of Miles Davis

Named after the trumpeter’s 1957 eponymous album, the film was co-written by Cheadle (who also played Davis), the film tells the story of a few days towards the end of Davis’ “retirement” from the public scene. The virtuoso, has been tracked down by a Rolling Stone writer, Dave Brill (McGregor) who is interested on writing a piece for the magazine about Davis’ imminent return to the music scene. After a bit of a rocky introduction (Davis punches Brill in the face, after which Brill breaks into Davis’ place locking Davis out). However, once things settle out, the pair bond over drinks and lines cocaine, and Brill reveals that he overheard of Davis coming out of retirement leading him to attempt to secure the interview.

Don Cheadle is Miles Ahead

Don Cheadle delivers a stunning performance as Miles Davis.
Don Cheadle delivers a stunning performance as Miles Davis. | Source

Protecting His Music

Once the pair has come to a form of détente, Davis has Brill drive him over to Columbia Studios (his record label) where he gets involved with yet another altercation, this time involving the studio chief. Later on, back at Davis’ place, while the pair are downstairs in Davis’ studio, chatting and listening to music (and there is a full-blown party going on upstairs that is being hosted by one of Davis’ hangers-on), someone boosts the tape, sending Davis into yet another rage. What we’ve learned at this point is that Davis is in a very fragile state of mind. He’s drunk, high, and (we eventually learn) pining away for his great love and wife, ballet dancer, Frances Davis (Corinealdi), who had left him some time earlier. As it turns out, the tape was boosted by an agent of Colombia Records so, even partially addled, Davis concocts a plan to get back his music. According to the story, Davis had been sitting on the recording for some time and because he was advanced a large sum of money (and the album is well past due), the studio wants it and wants it now, while Davis wants the rest of what he is promised (which the studio isn’t going to deliver until it gets its album).

Witness the Birth of Cool

Who is cooler than Don Cheadle as Miles Davis.
Who is cooler than Don Cheadle as Miles Davis. | Source

A Stunning Performance

For his part, Cheadle delivers a stunning performance of the Jazz great, as we see him — via both flashbacks “present time” set pieces — at various points in his career. We not only get to see him in the studio and gigging out in clubs, but we also get to see the very volatile relationship he had with Frances, including one hyper-critical moment when you can tell that they both realize that while they do truly love each other, things had just gone too far to come back. This is a very compelling film that is both entertaining as well as informative Like Love & Mercy, (Brian Wilson’s backstory) this film fills in gaps in the life of an iconic musician that we, as a fan, were never aware.

Blow, Baby, Blow!

"Remember, my friends, what a handful of trumpet players did to the famous, fabled walls of Jericho..."
"Remember, my friends, what a handful of trumpet players did to the famous, fabled walls of Jericho..." | Source

Miles Davis — So What

© 2016 Robert J Sodaro


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)