TV Highlights

What was on Tuesday 25th November

Miles Davis: A Different Kind of Blue

Sky Arts 2 - 9pm

Who's in it?

Legends like Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell pitched in with their thoughts, but the star of this show was very definitely Miles Davis himself, captured live and scarily intense at the Isle of Wight Festival.

In a nutshell

Think Miles Davis, and the obvious mental image is some 50s New York jazz spot, swathed in smoke, with the great man tooting his horn in film noir shadows. But if you had to pinpoint his greatest single moment for both the man and his genre, it would arguably be the very different context of the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Here, in broad daylight, in front of scruffy crowds, amid hippies and mud – the most un-jazz-like setting anyone can imagine – Miles attained the status of a rock star.

That's something no jazz musician has enjoyed since. And whatever you actually think of the concert (as this film pointed out, many took the electronically-infused sound as a betrayal, a la Bob Dylan going electric), it was a pretty awesome achievement for a man whose experimental sounds should really have alienated him from the masses. We saw the whole, iconic performance last night, in all its shimmering, fractured, psychedelic glory. Plus some thoughts from fans and fellow performers, including Joni Mitchell who also took to the stage that day.

What's the verdict?

While this was as far from smooth jazz as it's possible to be, even free-form sceptics would have been entranced by this time capsule of a film which plunged us back into the heady days of 70s live music. Certainly a far cry from Coldplay at Glasto.

Star rating: 4/5

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07-07-2011