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Don Cheadle on 5 Miles Davis Albums

The actor, currently helming a Davis biopic, discusses works from the jazz legend

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"Porgy and Bess"

"My first sort of introduction to Miles' music was my parents. They had very few albums when I was growing up, but one of the ones that they had, which the cover art intrigued me and the music intrigued me, was Porgy and Bess. It was very different than the sort of jazz I had been listening to up to that point. I played the saxophone, so I was kind of drawn to Charlie Parker, but listening to that was like, 'this is an impossible feat!' I could never do that. I was also listening to a lot of Cannonball Adderley and kind of got into the trumpet elliptically through Nat Adderley, his brother. And then found this Miles Davis album that my parents had. I was a theater kid and I liked the scores that I listened to for plays and stuff. So the marriage of Miles' music with Porgy and Bess appealed to me. The motifs that [Davis and album arranger Gil Evans] were using and the very interesting voicings — they were between traditional  jazz music and jazz instruments and then traditional orchestral, chamber music kind of instruments. Like, is that a bassoon? Is that a French horn? It just hit me in my ear in a place where I liked it. I did't have the tools necessarily to deconstruct all the reasoning why, the sound just appealed to me."

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