Stanley Nelson’s Grammy-nominated documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool is entering the next phase of its existence. Following several showings at film festivals and a theatrical run during 2019, the acclaimed movie will have its U.S. broadcast premiere as part of the American Masters series on Tuesday, February 25, at 9 PM EST on PBS channels nationwide (check local listings), pbs.org/milesdavis, and the PBS Video app.
Just prior to Birth of the Cool‘s TV premiere, on February 21, Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings will release the film’s accompanying soundtrack album. Curated by Stanley Nelson, Music from and Inspired by “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” brings together performances spanning labels and the artist’s musical evolution—from “Donna Lee” (a 1947 Savoy master take with Charlie Parker) through “Moon Dreams” (from the 1949 Birth of the Cool sessions) and “Generique” (from the soundtrack to Louis Malle’s 1958 Elevator to the Gallows) to tracks from Sketches of Spain, Bitches Brew, and Tutu, along with one new track, “Hail to the Real Chief.” It juxtaposes these selections with excerpts from the commentaries recorded for the film by the likes of musicians Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Carlos Santana, and Marcus Miller, among others.
Check out this clip from the movie, in which the Davis of 1956, about to sign with Columbia Records, figures out a quick way to get out of his existing contract with the Prestige label—a recording tactic designed for maximum time efficiency that ends up yielding many musical treasures.