MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

METROFOCUS: February 19, 2021

Independent Lens “Mr. Soul” director, producer and writer Melissa Haizlip joins us with an inside look at this cultural treasure. Also, Miles Davis was an American jazz master who defied labels and embodied the word “cool.” Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock and other music legends lead an all-star tribute to the life, work and legacy of this one-of a kind genius and cultural icon.

AIRED: February 19, 2021 | 0:28:32
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND

JENNA FLANNIGAN.

METROFOCUS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SILVIA A. AND SIMON ENDOWMENT TO

FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER

G. PETERSON AND COONEY FUND,

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, THE

AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY

JODY AND JOHN ARNEHOLD, AND JUDY

AND JOSH WESTIN.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SLOAN

FOUNDATION.

>>> TODAY, EVERY HOUR ON

TELEVISION, BLACKS HAVE NONE.

>> JAMES BALDWIN.

PATTI LABELLE.

AL GREEN.

STEVIE WONDER.

>> THIS IS EVERY DAY.

>> ELVIS CAME AT A TIME WHEN

THERE WERE SO FEW POSITIVE

AFRICAN-AMERICAN IMAGES ON

TELEVISION.

THERE IS NOTHING, NOTHING WE

CANNOT DO.

IT'S REVOLUTIONARY.

THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO SOUL.

>>> HELLO.

I'M JENNA FLANNIGAN.

THAT WAS A QUICK PREVIEW OF THE

AWARD-WINNING INDEPENDENT LENS

DOCUMENTARY "MR. SOUL," A

FASCINATING, ENTERTAINING AND

LONG OVERDUE CELEBRATION OF THE

GROUNDBREAKING FLACK VARIETY

SOUL "SOUL," INITIALLY PRODUCED

FOR WNET, THE PROGRAM RAN FOR

FIVE YEARS AND WAS BROADCAST BY

PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AND IT HAD,

AT ITS SINGULAR FOCUS, FULL NOT

AND VIBRANCY OF THE BLACK

EXPERIENCE.

SOUL WAS A SHOW MADE BY BLACK

CREATORS FOR A BLACK AUDIENCE,

SOMETHING THAT WAS COMPLETELY

UNHEARD OF IN THE 1960s AND '70s

AND THE SERIES IS NOW CONSIDERED

A CULTURAL TREASURE.

JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE

DOCUMENTARY IS THE DIRECTOR,

PRODUCER AND WRITER MELISSA

HISLIF, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH!

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> SO WONDERFUL TO HAVE YOU, AND

THANK YOU FOR BRINGING US THIS

AMAZING DOCUMENTARY, BUT FIRST,

I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT SOME OF

OUR VIEWERS AT WNET MIGHT

REMEMBER THE PROGRAM "SOUL," BUT

WHAT WAS IT TO YOU, AT LEAST

THAT MADE IT SO UNIQUE FOR THE

TIME THAT IT EXISTED.

>> I THINK THAT IT IS SUCH AN

INCREDIBLE TIME CAPSULE FOR NOT

ONLY PUBLIC TELEVISION, BUT THE

LANDSCAPE OF TELEVISION AND TWHA

FOLKS WERE DOING IN AMERICA AND

HOW THEY WERE PUSHING BACK AND

THIS BEAUTIFUL WINDOW INTO THE

BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT AND A

CREATIVITY AND A NEW EXPRESSION

OF ART, POLITICS, THE FIGHT FOR

SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THIS TRIFECTA

WAS NOT WHAT WE KNEW ON

TELEVISION AND IT WAS TO GO BACK

AND SEE THIS MOMENT WHERE YOU

HAVE SO MANY ARTISTS WHO ARE

HOUSEHOLD NAMES NOW AND KNOW

THAT THIS HAPPENED WITH THE

BIRTH OF PUBLIC TELEVISION AND

THE BIRTH OF DIVERSITY IN

TELEVISION, REALLY, IT'S REALLY

REMARKABLE, AND I LOVE UNSUNG

HERO STORIES AND IT DEFINITELY

FALLS IN THAT CATEGORY AND FOR

THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW THE SHOW

IT'S LIKE THE GREATEST SHOW

YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF, BUT

HONESTLY IT WAS A REAL SHOW AND

IT WAS REALLY GROUNDBREAKING.

SO TO BE ABLE TO LOOK AT IT WITH

FRESH EYES AND WATCH WITH YOUR

FAMILY, WITH MUSICIANS, DANCERS

AND SINGERS AND IT JUST GIVES

YOU A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE

BLACK EXPERIENCE AND IT'S

PARTICULARLY STARTLING HOW

INTIMATE AND REVEALING IT IS AND

HOW IT STILL RESONATES TODAY.

MANY OF THE THEMES THAT WERE

PART OF THE SHOW.

>> WELL, SPEAKING OF FAMILY

BECAUSE SO MANY OF THE PEOPLE

THAT WERE FEATURED IN IT BE IT

POET, WRITERS, DANCERS,

MUSICIANS ARE PEOPLE THAT AT

LEAST ESPECIALLY

AFRICAN-AMERICANS OF MY

GENERATION WOULD HAVE GROWN UP

WITH IF YOU WERE BORN IN THE

'70s, BUT THE FAMILY ASPECT IS

PARTICULARLY UNIQUE TO YOU, AND

I'M SURE SOME PEOPLE MIGHT

REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE THE SAME

LAST NAME AS THE HOST OF THE

SHOW.

SO JUST TELL US QUICKLY, WHAT IS

THE CONNECTION?

>> IT WAS NOT ONLY MY FAVORITE

BABYSITTER, BUT HE WAS ALSO MY

UNCLE AND I GOT TO KNOW HIM AS A

CHILD AND HE WAS WITH US AT THE

TIME HE WAS MAKING "SOUL."

HE LIVED ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE

AND EVEN THOUGH HE HAD HIS OWN

APARTMENT IN CHELSEA ON FIFTH

AVENUE HE LOVED COMING BACK TO

OUR PLACE AND SO I WAS REALLY

EXPOSED AT A VERY EARLY AGE TO

MAGICAL CODERY OF FRIENDS THAT I

FOUND OUT LATER WERE JAMES EARL

JONES AND MELBA MORRIS AND EVEN

WHEN HE WOULD BRING OVER BETTY

SHABBAZ AND THEIR CHILDREN,

MALCOLM X'S CHILDREN, WE WOULD

PLAY UNDER THE TV -- UNDER THE

TABLE WHERE THE TV WAS.

IT ENCOURAGED ME GROWING UP AND

HE WAS A MENTOR TO ME AND HELPED

ME SEE MY TRAJECTORY AS AN

ARTIST, AND I KNOW HE REALLY

INSPIRED SO MANY MORE ARTISTS

AND THAT'S WHEN I REALIZED THAT

THE STORY REALLY WASN'T ABOUT ME

AS MUCH AS I LOVED HIM SO MUCH,

BUT IT REALLY REPRESENTED A VERY

UNIQUE STAMP ON THE CURATIONS OF

AFRICAN-AMERICANS, HISTORY,

CULTURE AND ART.

>> SPEAKING ABOUT WHO SOMETHING

IS ABOUT, THROUGH THE FILM WE

LEARNED YOUR UNCLE ELLIS DIDN'T

WANT "SOUL" TO BE A SHOW ABOUT

HIM, AND HE WANTED IT TO BE FOR

AND ABOUT THE CULTURE, BUT THE

FILM IS TITLED "MR. SOUL" AND IT

IS VERY MUCH SORT OF THE SHOW

THAT HE HELPED CREATE AND THE

PEOPLE HE MADE SURE GOT NATIONAL

ATTENTION ON TELEVISION.

>> EXACTLY, AND IN THE BEGINNING

WE ENVISIONED THE FILM WOULD BE

ABOUT, YOU KNOW, MR. SOUL AND

THE BIRTH OF BLACK POWER

TELEVISION OR THE BIRTH OF BLACK

POWER TV AND WE DIDN'T WANT IT

TO BE ABOUT THE RISE AND FALL

BECAUSE THAT WAS A LITTLE BIT --

AND WHY THEY CALLED HIM MR. SOUL

IS BECAUSE AFTER SHOWS HE WOULD

GO OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY AND WE

DIDN'T HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA AND IN

ORDER TO GET A BEAT OR A READ ON

HOW THE CULTURE WAS RESPONDING

HE'D GO TO HARLEM OR THE VILLAGE

AND HE'D ASK PEOPLE, IT WAS VERY

EASY TO FIND PEOPLE AND ASK

PEOPLE, DID YOU SEE SOUL?

OF COURSE, THEY HAD.

HE CALLED IT THE DRUM.

YOU KNOW IN AFRICAN CULTURE AND

ESPECIALLY OUR HISTORY, THE DRUM

WAS THE WAY THE MESSAGES WERE

SENT ACROSS IN DRUMMING CIRCLES

AND DRUMMING MESSAGES OFTEN

ESPECIALLY WHEN FOLKS WERE

ENSLAVED.

SO HE CALLED IT THE DRUM WHEN HE

WAS CONNECTING EVERYONE AND

THEY'D SEE HIM ON THE STREET AND

THEY COULDN'T PRONOUNCE HIS NAME

AND THERE GOES SOUL -- MR. SOUL.

THAT'S MR. SOUL.

THAT'S THE GUY FROM SOUL.

MR. SOUL.

SO THAT BECAME HIS NICKNAME AND

WE THOUGHT HOW PERFECT.

EVEN ON HIS TOMBSTONE, AND WE

THOUGHT, THIS IS PERFECT BECAUSE

IT SORT OF EMBODIES WHAT WE'RE

TRYING TO DO WITH THE FILM WHICH

IS A MARRIAGE OF THE BIOGRAPHY

OF THE SHOW AND THE BIOGRAPHY OF

THE MAN WHICH IS NOT YOUR USUAL,

YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT THE USUAL

TEMPLATE FOR A DOCUMENTARY.

YOU USUALLY CHOOSE ONE OR THE

OTHER AND MAKE A BIOPIC OR YOU

MAKE A SHOW THAT'S MORE LIKE A

GREAT PERFORMANCES OR AMERICAN

MASTERS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT,

BUT WE THOUGHT IT'S

INEXTRICKABLE, THE IMPACT AND

THE IMPRINT OF THIS MAN ON THIS

SHOW AND SO THAT'S WHY WE CALLED

IT MR. SOUL.

>> WELL, ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS

THAT AGAIN, JUST MAKES THE

DOCUMENTARY, EVERY DOCUMENTARY,

OF COURSE, WILL DRAW ON ARCHIVAL

IMAGES AND FOOTAGE, ET CETERA,

BUT THE FOOTAGE THAT YOU WERE

ABLE TO GET FROM THE SHOW,

WASN'T NECESSARILY SOMETHING

THAT YOU CAME ACROSS EASILY.

ONE MIGHT THINK THAT OF COURSE,

IF IT'S AIRED ON TV BY TODAY'S

STANDARDS IT WOULD ALL BE

ARCHIVED SOMEWHERE, BUT THAT

WASN'T NECESSARILY YOUR JOURNEY.

>> NO, IT CERTAINLY WASN'T, AND

I WOULD SAY I CHARACTERIZED THE

JOURNEY AS MORE OF A COMBINATION

OF A WILD GOOSE CHASE MEETS A

PRIVATE DETECTIVE MEETS A

SCAVENGER HUNT, OKAY?

BECAUSE YOU WERE CONSTANTLY

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT AND PIECE

TOGETHER WHERE ARE THE TAPES?

WHERE ARE THE ARCHIVES?

CHANNEL 19, A PBS STATION IN NEW

YORK HAD 46 HARD COPIES, BUT

THERE WERE 130 EPISODES OVER A

PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS.

SO MY MISSION, REALLY WAS TO GO

OUT INTO THE WORLD AND FIGURE

OUT WHERE ARE THEY?

ARE THERE ANY BOOTLEGS?

WHERE IS THE GUY IN THE WEST

VILLAGE THAT USED TO SPREAD OUT

HIS BLANKET AND SELL IT ON

WEDNESDAY.

I WON'T SAY HIS NAME.

I WENT OVER TO ANA MARIA'S HOUSE

AND PEOPLE MADE TAPES FOR HER

OVER THE YEARS.

SHE WOULDN'T LET ME LEAVE WITH

THEM AND SHE LET ME WATCH THEM.

PEOPLE HAVE A PROPRIETARY

EXPERIENCE.

I KNEW THERE WERE A FINITE

EPISODES IN THE LIBRARY OF

CONGRESS AND A FINITE NUMBER IN

THE SMITHSONIAN.

HIS COLLECTION WAS THERE AFTER

HE PASSED AWAY AND ANACOSTIA

WHICH IS THE SMITHSONIAN AND THE

Q

ANACOSTIA MUSEUM.

AND SO LITERALLY CALLING OUT THE

GUY THAT WAS THE SOUND GUY.

I KNOW YOU HAVE THE TAPES

BECAUSE YOU RECORDED IT.

MAYBE YOU HAVE A FEW STASHED ON

THE SIDE?

IT'S NOT AN ISSUE OF PIRACY.

THIS IS AN ISSUE OF ARCHIVAL AND

ARCHIVING AND AS YOU WERE

SAYING, THIS CONCEPT OF

ARCHIVING STARTED VERY LATE IN

OUR SOCIETY AND THERE WERE OTHER

SHOWS LIKE THE GREAT AMERICAN

DREAM MACHINE AND OTHER PUBLIC

TELEVISION SHOWS THAT FELL UNDER

THAT DEMISE, AS WELL BECAUSE THE

IDEA OF KEEPING LIVE TELEVISION

SHOWS AND IT JUST DIDN'T MAKE

SENSE.

YOU TAPED OVER IT OR YOU THREW

OUT THE TAPE BECAUSE IT DIDN'T

WORK.

SO IT WAS QUITE A JOURNEY

PULLINGING THIS ARCHIVE TOGETHER

AND SOMETIMES I HAVE CLIPS OF

PERFORMANCES, BUT NOT ACTUAL

SOUL EPISODES.

WE REALLY HAD TO THINK ABOUT

THAT AND FIND THE BEST MOMENTS

AND TRY TO MATCH THAT WITH THE

MOMENTS THAT WERE HAPPENING IN

THE ELLIS' LIFE.

>> SPEAK OF PUBLIC TELEVISION.

OUR MISSION, IF YOU WILL, IS TO

BE EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION AND I

THINK FOR SOME VIEWERS

ESPECIALLY AT THAT TIME THAT

MIGHT HAVE BEEN CONFUSING TO SEE

A SHOW LIKE SOUL ON A CHANNEL

THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE

EDUCATIONAL.

IT DOES SERVE THAT PURPOSE AND

I'M WONDERING IF YOU CAN EXPLAIN

HOW THAT WORKED AT LEAST THROUGH

ELLIS' EYES.

>> HE BELIEVED THAT IT WAS A

SOURCE OF LIBERATION.

EVEN THOUGH IT WAS NATIONAL

EDUCATION TELEVISION AND WNET,

AFTER IT BECAME WNET, AND IT WAS

A BLACK EXPERIENCE AND IF YOU

SHARED THAT THAT WAS GOOD ON YOU

AND HIS JOB WAS NOT TO CREATE OR

TO BE THE PURVEYOR OF THE

CULTURE, BUT RATHER TO PRESENT

THE CULTURE IN ITS AUTHENTICITY

AND ITS UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK

CONCEPT.

IT ENDS UP BEING ENTIRELY

EDUCATIONAL BECAUSE OF THE WORLD

WE ARE IN AND THE FACT THAT

PEOPLE DIDN'T HAVE THAT KIND OF

INFORMATION.

THE ONLY BLACK PUBLIC TELEVISION

AT THE TIME WAS THE PUBLIC

AFFAIRS SHOW WHICH WAS A NEWS

BROADCAST.

FOR HIM TO COMBINE THE PUBLIC

AFFAIRS AND, YOU KNOW, LIFT IT

UP WITH BLACK CULTURE AND WHAT

WAS HAPPENING WITH THE STREETS

AND THE GRILLOS, THAT WAS

EXPONENTIALLY EDUCATIONAL AND I

STILL THINK IT HAS A VERY

EDUCATIONAL -- WELL, AN

EDUCATIONAL VIBE TO IT TODAY.

I THINK YOU CAN LEARN SO MUCH

FROM IT.

>> WELL, WE'VE ONLY GOT A FEW

MOMENTS LEFT, ABOUT 30 SECONDS,

BUT I'D LOVE TO GET YOUR TAKE

BECAUSE WATCHING THE DOCUMENTARY

"MR. SOUL" AFTER HAVING LIVED

THROUGH IT, LIKE 2020, IT'S

UNBELIEVABLY RELEVANT AND IT'S

ALMOST 50 YEARS OLD.

DO YOU THINK THERE'S ROOM FOR A

SHOW LIKE "SOUL" TO EXIST AGAIN?

>> I THINK THERE IS ROOM.

THE QUESTION IS WHAT WOULD THE

PLATFORM BE?

I THINK THE DESIRE IS THERE AND

I THINK WE NEED AN UNFILTERED,

UNFETTERED, NON-COMMERCIAL SPACE

TO BE FREE IN ORDER TO ASSESS

OURSELVES FULLY IN ALL OF OUR

COMPLEXITIES AND DISAGREEMENTS

AND BEAUTY AND THE MYRIAD FORMS

OF THAT AND NOT PRESCRIBED BY

CRITICS OR MONEY OR

COMMERCIALIZATION AND THAT KIND

OF AGENDA.

WE DEFINITELY NEED THAT AND WE

NEED A PLATFORM, FOR NOT JUST

WHAT SOUL WAS AND A PLATFORM,

AND THIS TRIFECTA IS WHAT WE DO

NEED RIGHT NOW.

I SAY YES, I THINK WE COULD

DEFINITELY USE A LITTLE SOUL TO

RESTORE THE SOUL OF A NATION.

>> IT'S REVOLUTIONARY, YOU KNOW?

IT MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

>> UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GOING TO

HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE AND I CAN

CONTINUE TALKING TO YOU ABOUT

THIS FILM AND FOR VIEWERS WHO

WANT TO KNOW, YOU CAN CATCH THE

INDEPENDENT LENS PRESENTATION OF

"MR. SOUL" RIGHT HERE ON

13,WHERE, ARE WNET WHERE IT

STARTED OR GO TO MET LOW FO

FOCUS.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION.

>>> GOOD EVENING.

I'M JENNA FLANNIGAN.

MILES DAVIS REDEFINED FUNK MANY

TIMES OVER.

DAVIS LOVED MUSIC AND LIVES HIS

LIFE ON HIS OWN TERMS AND BOTH

HIS MUSIC AND HIS LIFE ARE THE

SUBJECT OF A BRILLIANT NEW

AMERICAN MASTERS DOCUMENTARY,

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL.

WITH FULL ACCESS TO THE MILES

DAVIS ESTATE, THE FILM'S NEVER

BEFORE SEEN ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE,

STUDIO OUTTAKES AND RARE PHOTOS

AS IT TELLS THE STORY OF A TRULY

SINGULAR TALENT AND UNPACKS THE

LIFE AND MUSIC OF AN AMERICAN

ICON.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

>> MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN LIKE A

CURSE WITH ME.

IT'S THE FIRST THING IN MY LIFE.

I GO TO BED THINKING ABOUT IT

AND WAKE UP THINKING ABOUT IT.

THAT'S ALL I LIVE FOR.

>> MILES STARTED VERY EARLY.

HE LOOKED AT THINGS DIFFERENTLY,

AND SAW THINGS DIFFERENTLY.

>> HE WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST

JUST LIKE STRABINSKI.

>> A LOT OF THE OLD GUYS THOUGHT

IF YOU WENT TO SCHOOL IT WOULD

MAKE YOU PLAY LIKE YOU WERE

WHITE.

I WANTED TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING

ON IN ALL OF MUSIC.

>> JULIA, IN THE DAYTIME AND AT

NIGHT HE'D BE ON THE TRIP TO

SECOND STREET.

>> HE PUT THE BELL ON HIS HORN

RIGHT INTO THE MICROPHONE AND

CHANGED THE WHOLE WORLD OF JAZZ

RIGHT THERE.

>> HE COMES UP WITH A STYLE THAT

IS TRULY REFLECTIVE OF WHO HE

IS.

HE WAS ANGRY, ANTI-SOCIAL.

>> BUT THEN HE STARTS PLAYING

AND PEOPLE ARE -- HE JUST

DISARMS YOU.

>> HE SURROUNDS HIMSELF WITH

YOUNG, EMERGING, UNKNOWN VOICES.

>> WE WERE KIDS AND MILES IS A

HEAD CHEMIST.

>> HE WANTED US TO LIVE ON THE

STAGE, CREATING IN FRONT OF THE

PEOPLE.

DON'T LEAN ON WHAT YOU KNOW.

WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR IS THE

STUFF CROWE DON'T KNOW.

>> WE DIDN'T JUST WANT TO PLAY

WITH MILES.

WE WANTED TO BE MILES DAVIS.

>> MILES' AUDIENCE WAS CHANGING

AND WITH WHAT WAS HAPPENING NOW.

>> IF ANYBODY WANTS TO KEEP

CREATING THEY HAVE TO BE ABOUT

>> I LOVED.

BEFORE I KNEW IT, I HAD A HEROIN

ADDICT.

>> MILES BECOMES REPRESENTATIVE

OF A KIND OF COOL, KIND OF

SOPHISTICATION, A KIND OF

MASCULINITY.

>> MILES.

>> WE WERE A HOT COUPLE.

THE ELEVATOR OPENED AND THERE HE

WAS.

>> IT WAS LIKE IN A MOVIE WHEN

YOU MEET THE VAMPIRE AND YOU

KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO DIE AND YOU

DON'T CARE.

>> HE BECOMES OUR BLACK

SUPERMAN.

>> ALL I EVER WANTED TO DO WAS

COMMUNICATE WHAT I FELT THROUGH

MUSIC.

>>> JOINING US NOW IS THE

PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR OF MILES

DAVIS, BIRTH OF THE COOL,

STANLEY NELSON.

WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS".

>> THANK YOU.

>> I WANT TO START WITH A QUOTE

THAT I HEARD IN THE CLIP A

LITTLE BIT, BUT I WANT TO READ

IT SO I GET IT RIGHT.

MYLES USED TO SAY MUSIC IS LIKE

A CURSE TO ME AND COMES BEFORE

ANYTHING UPON.

HOW IS THAT EMBLEMATIC OF THE

LIFE OF THE MAN THAT YOU SPENT

SO MUCH TIME IMMERSED IN?

>> FOR MILES, MUSIC WAS FIRST,

SECOND, THIRD, EVERYTHING, YOU

KNOW?

AND IT WAS MORE THAN HIS

RELATIONSHIPS.

IT WAS MORE THAN THE PEOPLE IN

HIS BAND.

WE'VE SEEN THAT OVER AND OVER

AGAIN IN THE FILM.

MILES -- MUSIC IS JUST THE MOST

IMPORTANT THING, YOU KNOW?

IF HE HAS TO SACRIFICE

RELATIONSHIPS FOR MUSIC, HE DOES

AND PEOPLE IN HIS BAND DON'T

WANT TO MOVE AHEAD AND PLAY WHAT

HE'S PLAYING THEY GO.

IT WAS -- HE'S KIND OF BEING A

LITTLE BIT COY THERE BECAUSE TO

MILES, MUSIC WAS EVERYTHING.

IT ALSO IS GOOD, BUT IT ALSO IS

BAD.

>> OF COURSE.

SO THIS DEFINITELY TELLS US THE

FULL STORY OF MILES DAVIS.

SO I WANT YOU TO TAKE US BACK A

LITTLE BIT TO THE BEGINNING

BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE HOW MANY

PEOPLE KNOW HIS ORIGIN STORY AND

THE ROLE OF THE LIFE THAT HE

LEFT TO COME TO NEW YORK PLAYED

IN THE PERSON HE BECAME.

>> MILES WAS BORN IN 1926 IN

EAST ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.

IT WAS THE SOUTH AND EVERYTHING

THAT GOES WITH IT IN 1926, BUT

MILES DAVIS' FATHER WAS A DENTAL

SURGEON AND MILES DAVIS GREW UP

ESPECIALLY FOR A BLACK KID IN

THAT TIME, RICH.

THEY HAD A HOUSE IN EAST ST.

LOUIS, BUT THEY ALSO HAD A FARM

OUTSIDE OF EAST ST. LOUIS WHERE

THEY HAD CATTLE AND PIGS AND HE

HAD HIS OWN HORSE AND THAT'S HOW

MILES GREW UP.

MILES HAD TWO JOBS IN HIS LIFE.

HE HAD ONE JOB AS A PAPER BOY

AND HE WAS A MUSICIAN.

HIS FATHER WAS ABLE TO SUPPORT

HIM FOR GOING TO JUILLIARD AND

OTHER THINGS AND MILES' LIFE WAS

VERY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE

THINK OF AS THE JAZZ MUSICIAN IN

HIS LIFE, BUT MILES WAS A

PROTEGE.

SO MILES STARTS PLAYING WHEN

HE'S 14 WITH BANDS AROUND EAST

ST. LOUIS AND WE HAVE PICTURES

OF HIM AND YOU SEE HE'S A LITTLE

KID.

HE'S PLAYING WITH MEN AT 14 AND

BECAUSE THE MEN ALL HAD DAY JOBS

AND MILES BECOMES THE BAND

MANAGER AND MANAGES THE BAND AT

14 AND 15, AND IN SOME WAYS WE

SEE THAT INFLUENCE OF THAT IS

MILES PROBABLY BECOMES THE

GREATEST SMALL GROUP BAND LEADER

IN THE HISTORY OF JAZZ.

>> OF COURSE, AS WE FOLLOW

MILES' CAREER AND HE OF COURSE,

COMES TO NEW YORK AND STUDIES AT

JUILLIARD WHICH I'M NOT SURE A

LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW, BUT EVEN

THEN THERE'S THIS UNIQUE

INDIVIDUALISTIC REBELLIOUS

STREAK THAT IS VERY CLEAR FROM

THE VERY BEGINNING AND I'M JUST

WONDERING HOW AS A YOUNG BLACK

MAN IN THE '40s AND '50s EVEN IN

A CITY LIKE NEW YORK, HOW IS HE

ABLE TO NAVIGATE THAT WITHOUT

GETTING SERIOUSLY HURT ALTHOUGH

WE DO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WERE

TIMES WHEN HE GOT HURT, BUT

WITHOUT GETTING SERIOUSLY HURT?

>> MILES IS LIVING AS A JAZZ

MUSICIAN.

SO HE DOES HAVE THAT BUT HE

TAKES A BEATING IN 1959 FROM A

COP OUTSIDE OF BIRDLAND.

HE'S REALLY BLOODIED AND WE TALK

ABOUT THAT IN THE FILM AND THERE

ARE INCREDIBLE PICTURES AND

JIMMY COBB WHO IS THERE AND

FRANCIS TAYLOR WHO IS THERE AND

TALK ABOUT THAT INCIDENT, BUT

YOU KNOW, THAT WAS ALWAYS ONE OF

THE KIND OF DICHOTOMIES THAT

MILES EXISTED WITH, YOU KNOW?

HE'S BORN RICH, BUT HE'S BORN

BLACK IN EAST ST. LOUIS AND HE

BECOMES VERY EARLY ON AND THIS

VERY SUCCESSFUL JAZZ MUSICIAN

AND HE'S STILL SUBJECTED TO THE

RACISM IN AMERICA AND IT ALWAYS

IS SOMETHING THAT MILES DEALS

WITH ALL HIS LIFE.

>> AS WE ALSO GET A CHANCE TO

FOLLOW HIS CAREER AND THE

DEVELOPMENT OF HIS MUSIC, AND WE

OF COURSE GET TO THE SEMINAL

ALBUM THAT HE DID WHICH IS

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING AND IS STILL

ONE OF THE GREATEST JAZZ ALBUMS

EVER RECORDED.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT

IT WAS THAT -- HOW DID HE COME

TO THAT PLACE?

BECAUSE WE FOLLOW A MUSICAL

EVOLUTION AND IT'S NOT LIKE THE

ALBUM CAME OUT OF NOWHERE.

>> THAT WAS WHAT WE FOUND IN THE

FILM THAT THERE WAS THIS

EVOLUTION AND IT ALL KIND OF

MAKES SENSE.

SO MILES GOES TO FRANCE.

HE GOES TO FRANCE TO PLAY IN '57

AND '58 AND HE'S PLAYING THERE

AND HE'S ASKED TO DO A

SOUNDTRACK FOR THIS FRENCH FILM

CALLED ELEVATED TO THE GALLOWS

AND THE WAY HE DOES THE

SOUNDTRACK IS HE GOES INTO THE

STUDIO AND THEY PUT THE FILM UP

ON THE STAGE AND HE PLAYS TO HIS

BAND TO THE IMAGES ON THE SCREEN

AND HE HAS A COUPLE OF NOTES AND

THAT'S ALL HE HAS, AND HE MAKES

A VERY FAMOUS RECORDING ELEVATED

FROM THE GALLOWS AND HE BECOMES

A SUCCESSFUL FRENCH FILM.

WHEN HE COMES BACK, THAT'S KIND

OF WHAT HE DOES THE REST OF HIS

LIFE.

HE GOES INTO THE STUDIO A YEAR

LATER AND HE GOES INTO THE

STUDIO FOR JUST SOME SKETCHES AS

JIMMY COBB SAID NO, HE HAS A

COUPLE OF PIECES OF PAPER AND I

ASKED HIM WHAT DID MILES TELL

YOU, THEN?

MILES JUST TOLD ME TO SWING AND

WHAT COMES OUT OF THAT IS THIS

ALBUM OF PURE IMPROVISATION THAT

I WOULD ARGUE IS ONE OF THE

GREATEST JAZZ ALBUMS OF ALL

TIME.

>> WELL, ONE OF THE UNOFFICIAL

CHARACTERS OF THIS FILM IS ALSO

THE CITY OF NEW YORK AND THE

ROLE THAT IT PLAYED NOT ONLY IN

MILES' LIFE, BUT JUST IN THE

DEVELOPMENT OF JAZZ.

THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER

MUSICIANS WHO ARE HERE AT THE

TIME WHO ARE JAMMING WITH HIM

AND SITTING IN ON SESSIONS, ET

CETERA.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT

THAT VIBE WAS LIKE.

>> SO MILES, HE GRADUATES HIGH

SCHOOL IN EAST ST. LOUIS AND

ALMOST LIKE THE NEXT DAY GETS ON

THE TRAIN TO NEW YORK AND HE'S,

LIKE, I'M GOING TO NEW YORK AND

YOU KNOW, HIS PARENTS ESPECIALLY

HIS MOTHER WANT HIM TO BE A

VIOLINIST.

>> YEAH.

>> SO HE ENROLLS IN JUILLIARD,

AND SO WHAT CAN HIS MOTHER SAY?

YOU'RE IN JUILLIARD, AND OKAY,

YOU CAN GO TO NEW YORK AND HE

COMES TO JUILLIARD AND HE'S

STUDYING IN JUILLIARD DURING THE

DAY AND PLAYING ON 52nd STREET

WITH CHARLIE PARKER AT NIGHT AND

VERY QUICKLY AT 19 OR 18, HE

BECOMES A TRUMPETER FOR PARKER

AND THAT WAS WHAT MILES HAD ALL

HIS LIFE.

HE ALWAYS -- EVEN IF HE HAD A

PLACE IN MALIBU, HE ALSO HAD A

PLACE IN NEW YORK.

ONE OF THE THINGS I THOUGHT WAS

INTERESTING IS THAT THIS FILM IS

NOT JUST FOR THE JAZZ

ENTHUSIAST.

I'VE HAD A CHANCE TO SEE IT AND

WATCH IT WITH MY FAMILY AND SOME

MILLENNIALS AND ET CETERA, AND

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE FULLY

IMMERSED IN THE JAZZ WORLD TO

APPRECIATE WHO MILES WAS AND

WHAT HIS WORK REPRESENTED.

>> WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST INTENT

THAT YOU WANTED IN MAKING THIS?

>> THAT IS SUCH AN INTERESTING

QUESTION.

I'VE BEEN MAKING FILMS FOR 40

YEARS.

I WENT TO CITY COLLEGE IN NEW

YORK AND MAKING FILMS FOR 40

YEARS AND THIS WAS A CHANCE TO

MAKE A FILM ABOUT MILES DAVIS

AND I WANTED TO PUT EVERYTHING I

KNEW UP ON THE SCREEN AND TRIED

TO MAKE A FILM THAT IN SOME WAYS

WANT MOCKED, BUT KIND OF

IMITATED AND KIND OF HAD THIS

CREATIVE SENSE OF MILES.

SO WE FLEW -- AND WHEN I SAY WE,

THE EDITOR, PRODUCER AND

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, WE PUT

EVERYTHING WE COULD TO GIVE

MILES HIS DUE.

THIS WAS A FILM ABOUT MILES

DAVIS.

>> YEAH.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

IT COVERS SUCH AN AMAZING -- THE

BREADTH OF SUCH AN AMAZING LIFE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS FILM.

IT WAS A REAL HONOR.

>> IT WAS SO GREAT ANDEN

GROSSING TO WATCH.

>> FOR MORE INFORMATION ON

AMERICAN MASTERS' PRESENTATION

OF MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE

COOL.

VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

>>> METROFOCUS IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SILVIA A. AND SIMON B. POINT OF

PROGRAM ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANTZ FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION

AND BY JANET PRINDEL SIDE LER,

AND JUDY AND JOSH WESTIN.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SLOAN

FOUNDATION.