The Miles Davis movie is kind of a disaster. It's not so much a biopic as it is a remake of Lethal Weapon with a blak guy and a white guy together shooting at bad guys and driving through city streets in fast cars. It's not boring, but if you know anything about Miles Davis, the film will drive you crazy. In fact, if you know New York, the film will drive you crazy every time a car drives down an alley in a city that has no alleys. (The film was shot in Cincinnati.)
Speaking in my official capacity as a hopeless equipment geek, I could not help but notice that the film has a flashback in which Davis/Cheadle is playing a Monette trumpet 25 years before Dave Monette started making trumpets. Later on, Cheadle plays a Bach Stradivarius at a time when Miles was only playing Martin Committees.
So, naturally, I wrote to Dave Monette. His office manager told me that Cheadle had approached Wynton Marsalis about trumpets, and Wynton -- who has been playing Monette trumpets for many years now -- told him that Monettes are easier to play, so it would be the best horn for Cheadle as he began learning his way around the trumpet. Apparently, that's as far as it went, and Cheadle was not concerned about anachronisms, not to mention the loud gasps from obsessed audience members like me. And Cheadle obviously did not get very far with his trumpet lessons, because he does a mediocre job of pantomiming what trumpeters actually look like when they play.
Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Stony Brook University
Adjunct Professor of Jazz Studies, Columbia University
Editor in Chief, Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies