Last thursday, I attended the museum premiere of We Want Miles, a multimedia retrospective of the musical career of the legendary Miles Davis, presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. As you’ll see in the video above, I had the chance to meet Miles Davis’ son and nephew, on top of chatting with the ever-charming director of the MMFA, Nathalie Bondil.
For my long-awaited rendez-vous with Miles, I had slipped on one of my prettiest dresses and toured the exhibition, surrounded by gripping sounds and stirring images of the famous jazz icon. Paintings by Basquiat and photographs by artists such as Anton Corbijn, Irving Penn and Annie Leibovitz hung on walls as a testimony of Miles’ impact, not only on music, but on the entire art world.
I walked through the dimly-lit rooms (eight of them to be exact – all representing chronological periods of Mile’s life), and for a few seconds, pretended to be Jeanne Moreau. Yet instead of looking for my Julien through tall glass windows, I was staring at a glass box that served as a niche for the stunning Martin Committee trumpet that Miles used in the 50s. (The sax to the left belonged to John Coltrane).
My mind was clearly directing its own black and white film as I got lost envisioning the life of that trumpet. Did it have a name? When Miles first put his hands on it, did he play it right away, or did he look at it the way one contemplates a lover at first sight? Where had it been and which stranger had been moved by its melodies? Did it quiver on lonely nights?
The last time Miles Davis was in Montreal was in 1991, just a few months before his death. I would have loved to see Miles perform, but I did not have this chance. In 1991, Miles Davis was a stranger to me. I was an elementary school girl enthralled by the music of Jodeci, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Little did I know, Miles Davis was an integral part of their music, and in that sense, I’ve been a Miles Davis fan for much longer than I can remember.
Perhaps Miles Davis and I have not shared the same lifetime – physically. Perhaps, I have never seen him perform. I never will. However tonight, through the wonderfully rich exhibition that is “We Want Miles”, I feel as though I’ve finally met him: the Picasso of Jazz. The one who has absorbed styles, surpassed trends and reinvented the history of music five times over.
Miles Davis is in town. You would have to be crazy to be in Montreal and miss out on the opportunity to encounter the spirit of such a genius.
We Want Miles
At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1380 Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal, QC H3G 1J5