When Miles Davis Walked the Streets of Detroit

A conversation about the Jazz scene and Miles Davis’ role in it here in Detroit back in the 1950s.



In 1953, Miles Davis moved to Detroit for a months-long residency at the Blue Bird Inn on Detroit’s West Side. It was a time that helped shape Davis’ career before he became recognized as the world’s greatest jazz trumpeter.

We are celebrating 70 years of music in Detroit on WDET this week. At different points in our history, this station has been a classical station, and a jazz station, and we still bring you great music of all genres. But it’s that connection to jazz that has a special place in WDET’s history, and it’s why Detroit Today’s Stephen Henderson is highlighting a special Miles Davis documentary is screening this weekend.

Stanley Nelson, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and director of “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” along with Mark Stryker, the author of “Jazz from Detroit” and former Detroit Free Press arts reporter/critic who will moderate a post-screening Q&A with Stanley Nelson tomorrow night at the Detroit Film Theater.

“It’s a biography of Miles — warts and all — in some ways it became a bigger film than just about Miles and his music–which is huge. But, it’s also a film about American and about Miles in the context of America,” says Nelson. “We found that there really haven’t been many films about Miles, it is in some ways one of the first.”

On the role of radio in Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s, “the city was producing some of the most important Jazz musicians of the era. Detroit was a roaring, profound scene,” says Stryker of the Jazz scene in Detroit all those years ago.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.