The Classicist: The Summer of Style Icon & Jazz Great Miles Davis
Here at Luxist we write a lot about fashion and style, mainly in the form of luxury goods, but it's also interesting to look at the inspiration and influence behind what some people only see as pricey items in a luxe boutique. Some style influencers are well known and at times over-used; Steve McQueen and John F. Kennedy are two examples that spring to mind. Less well known but equally as influential among the tastemakers who decide what we buy as musicians – see Ralph Lauren's homage to Davis' take on Ivy League style here – is the late jazz great Miles Davis, who's finally getting his due with a new museum exhibition and accompanying book this summer.
Now through August 29, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is staging the first major North American multimedia retrospective dedicated to Miles. Entitled We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz, the exhibition (designed and organized with help from the Cité de la Musique in Paris with the support of Davis' estate) combines image and sound to offer visitors a sensory experience inspired by Davis himself, who once said, "A painting is music you can see, and music is a painting you can hear." If you can't make it to the museum in person – or even if you can – Skira Rizzoli's book version (above) is well worth buying. The most comprehensive and lavishly illustrated volume on the jazz great to date, it chronicles Davis' life and his relationship to jazz and musicians surrounding him, on the heels of the 50th anniversary of his acclaimed album Kind of Blue and 40th anniversary of Bitches Brew.
Gallery: We Want Miles Davis
We Want Miles includes personal essays and reflections from some who collaborated with him on his most highly regarded tracks, to those who witnessed his descent into hard drugs. However it's the incredible collection of images which are the main draw – photographs from live performances on-stage, in the studio, and from private archives, plus album covers, concert posters, original scores, Davis's own paintings, and other ephemera. Davis "embraced various musical currents with boldness and ingenuity while pushing innovation and improvisation in his own playing," the author, editor-in-chief of Jazz Magazine Franck Bergerot, notes. Bergerot definitely knows his stuff; he oversaw the first volumes of the complete works of Miles Davis released by the Masters of Jazz label, and also wrote the 53 liner notes contained in the box set of Miles Davis: Complete Columbia Album Collection.