Miles Ahead Soundtrack and Everything’s Beautiful – Miles Davis and Robert Glasper with special guests including Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Gary Clark, Jr., Esperanza Spalding, Bilal, DJ Spinna, Rashad and many more.
By Paul Ill
As it is often dangerous to question authority, so is it dangerous to speak of music in superlative terms. Embrace then, this dangerous assertation: the music and dialogue presented in the Miles Ahead Soundtrack and its companion piece, “Everything’s Beautiful” by Miles Davis and Robert Glasper, make for what are by far the most important releases not only of this calendar year, but of recent history.
Like the film they so dutifully grace, the music embodied on these two recordings presents a glimpse through Cheadle’s crystal-clear cinemascopic lens into the complex spirit and immortal soul of Miles Davis. The Miles Ahead soundtrack is comprised of crucial Miles Davis classics, new music created by Robert Glasper and excerpts from Don Cheadle’s dialogue as Miles. Glasper leads some very adept young lions and an all-star cast of Davis’ contemporaries. The results are controversial, unpredictable and adaptive to the surrounding world; yet remain unique and reflective of the times. So what we get are classic Miles tracks cherry-picked from his 50 + year career and new music deliciously created by Glasper under Cheadles’ supervision.
“Everything’s Beautiful” is a beautifully contrasting companion piece. This impeccable set of recordings presents us with equally delectable aural delights. Again, Robert Glasper leads a very diverse spread of contemporary artists spearheaded by Stevie Wonder and Erykah Badu. They all re-cast Miles’ music in ways both timely and timeless. These eleven tracks are nearly as diverse in moods as much of the Miles catalogue. This is no remix record; this is a testimony to the pervasive and lasting influence of Miles. For example, “Little Church” re-imagined by the band Hiatus Kaiyote lends great strength to the claim that Miles is not only the most innovative force Jazz will ever know, but the progenitor of Ambient music as well.
Because it is so organically soothing, today’s favorite is “Maiysha (So Long)” featuring Erykah Badu. Tomorrow, that may change to the brilliant Georgia Anne Muldrow’s take on “Milestones”. Change is cornerstone to Miles’ legacy. And that is why these recordings work so well.
To take possession of both these recordings is to be handed a treasure map. His route is direct, sometimes challenging, and sometimes even perilous. Musically, your pot of gold is two-fold and almost beyond value: the Miles Ahead soundtrack offers the broad arc that is Miles Davis and “Everything’s Beautiful” demonstrates Robert Glasper as a magnificent keeper of a most magnificent flame – the eternal fire that is Miles Davis.
There are very few legacies in any art form as diverse and as complex as the musical and cultural impact presented by Miles Davis. Maybe Picasso, perhaps Kubrick, but as we begin to assess his almost immeasurable socio-cultural impact, it is hard to name anyone who is as capable of remaining vital, relevant and re-inventive as Miles Davis. These recordings and the brilliant film they grace do very well to honor Miles Davis. His is one of history’s most valuable artistic legacies. This music, like all of Miles’ music is a most healthy ecology, always evolving, always alive, always crucial.