Paris: “We Want Miles: le Jazz face à sa légende” (The Face of a Jazz Legend)
The largest Miles Davis exhibition ever is on display in Paris at the Music Museum until January 17th!
excerpts of review by Nadia Ghanem
We Want Miles celebrates Miles Davis‘ genius, inspiration and prolific work. Numerous shy, rare, and previously unseen artefacts support this retrospective of one of the most influential and vanguard musicians, thanks to the generosity, involvement and documents of Miles Davis Properties. In addition to the exhibition are a season of film screenings and concerts – the first days of the concert series was opened by the bands of Jimmy Cobb, Joe Lovano and Wayne Shorter. Now that’s a celebration.
We Want Miles, titled after his 1981 album, is a treat for the senses. The purposefully darkly lit rooms throughout induce a switch from relying on eyesight to relying on ear-sight and what better homage to pay to such an icon. He sings for us all the way through – no it’s not trumpet playing it had become his vocal cords. He plays, charms and hums to an audience enthralled, hanging to his legendary lip.
The exhibition is organised chronologically on two floors, one floor for the acoustic years and one floor for the electric years, 800 dedicated square meters exhibiting photos, paintings, albums, musical instruments, screen footages, televised concerts and interviews, music scores, stage clothes, all presented with explanatory notes, anecdotes and plug-in sound boxes with Miles’ music… he must be here too.
On display are several instruments, by fellow musicians as well as trumpets Miles owned at various periods. Of these trumpets: all are colour customised – tinted in blue-green, black and copper, or lush red and gold, all Martin models and all are engraved with Miles’ name (next to the trumpets: Martin), a musical marriage of man and instrument sealed by careful inscriptions.
On the lower level, a special wall is titled and dedicated to The Art of Miles, who started drawing and painting in 1982 to help his hand affected badly by an earlier heart attack. A delicious photo towards the end rounds up the viewing: a close-up by Irving Penn of Miles’ hand giving the third finger, bending it inwards rather than sticking it outwards, his soft glistening skin winking at us, a photo used for the Tutu album and promotion in 1986.
One last sweet before leaving: PCs with headphones allowing for 6 pieces (“Now’s The Time”, “Bag’s Groove”, “So What”, “Footprints”, “Spanish Key” and “Tutu”) to be rediscovered with a listening guide where the musical scores of each and its innovations are explained.
For more info check out the Miles Davis mini site (in french but photos need no translation!)
(sidenote: how cool is it that this museum has a special price if you’re unemployed?! US, get with it!!)