The filmmakers behind the upcoming documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the jazz innovator’s groundbreaking record Kind of Blue with an exclusive cut from the film that offers a peek into the album’s recording process.
Though the film tracks Davis’ entire life and career, the extended clip focuses on the critical moment in the late trumpeter’s early phase as development began for his post-bebop pivot Kind of Blue. Over the iconic introduction of album opener “So What,” the documentary uses Davis and company’s recollections of the seminal recording sessions to set the scene, from the assembling of his all-star supporting players, including saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, to Davis’ budding philosophy of loose arrangements and improvisation.
The album, released 60 years ago this week on August 17, 1959, served as a career-defining moment for Davis that built his reputation to deftly blend jazz with the unconventional while influencing generations to come, including Birth of the Cool director Stanley Nelson.
“Kind of Blue is the album that changed it all for me — I remember stealing my father’s copy and taking it to college where I studied it endlessly and was transported out of my dorm room by ‘Flamenco Sketches,’” Nelson tells Billboard. “It made me want to learn more about Miles and his beautiful music and spurred my lifelong fascination with him. I’ve always wanted to tell his story, so it was a real dream come true to make this film about this complex man and artist.”
The documentary offers never-before-seen archived footage and photos provided by the Miles Davis Estate along with video interviews from contemporaries such as Quincy Jones and Carlos Santana as well as the sole remaining member of the Kind of Blue sextet in drummer Jimmy Cobb.
“We were lucky to sit down with Jimmy Cobb, the last living member of the band that made Kind of Blue,” Nelson says. “To have him take us through the recording sessions, along with all of the incredible archival material we found, really helped open up our understanding of such a tremendous moment in history.”
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool makes its theatrical debut on Aug. 23 in New York via Abramorama and will expand to additional markets throughout the fall.
Check out the exclusive clip of the documentary on Billboard below.