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Miles: A Miles Davis Retrospective
Major New Exhibition at the Missouri History Museum May 13, 2001 through February 2002

ST. LOUIS, May 2001 - When trumpeter, composer and bandleader Miles Davis died in 1991, the world lost one of its premier artists in any medium. The Missouri Historical Society will mark the 75th anniversary of Miles Davis' birth in the St. Louis area with the opening of Miles: A Miles Davis Retrospective, an exceptional new exhibition at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. The exhibition will be on view May 13, 2001 through February 2002.

Miles: A Miles Retrospective, will showcase and feature music, interviews, artifacts, and photographs to analyze the career of the man who made The Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, and other great recordings. The exhibition will examine the St. Louis and East St. Louis musical cultures of Davis' youth, the pathbreaking course of his professional career, his artistic achievements, and the cultural impact of his art and legacy.

Born May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois, Miles Davis and his mysterious, beautiful music were artistically profound and culturally influential. His music conveyed a range of emotional possibilities in art, from anger to bliss, and his life was a complex reflection of the times through which visitors can look even deeper into regional and national history. Through Miles, the public will be reminded of the influence of East St. Louis and the entire region in shaping Davis and his art, and also of how his art transcended particular regional origins and remains influential, making him one of the key American artists of the past century.

Exhibition Development
Conceived and curated by MHS historian Benjamin Cawthra, Miles has developed through the teamwork of MHS researches and designers and an advisory committee, including daughter Cheryl Davis, St. Louis-born Davis biographer Quincy Troupe, Washington University professor Gerald Early, and Southern Illinois University professor Eugene Redmond. The working group is rich in expertise on Davis' life and career, jazz, East St. Louis, musicology, and African American popular music, history and culture.

For Miles, Missouri Historical Society curators gathered authentic artifacts to illustrate Davis' story, including his signature red trumpet and other instruments, lead sheets and scores, publicity artwork, records and record jackets, paintings by Davis, awards, clothing, and phenomenal photographs, chosen for artistic impact as well as narrative value under the guidance of Lee Tanner, a nationally-recognized curator of jazz and performance photos. Visitors will also have access to 100 selections of music and oral history interviews, many of which were excerpted from the Culture Works Productions' Miles Davis Radio Project, originally broadcast on American Public Radio. Visitors will be able to hear Davis speaking about his own life and music, and will have rare access to the comments of musical greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, Gil Evans, Carlos Santana, and Tony Williams.

Exhibition Themes
With Miles, the Missouri Historical Society's goal is to make Davis, his creative energy, and the complexity of the man and his music come to life. The exhibition's six sections will chronicle Davis' life journey and will feature: his experiences as a teenage musician in East St. Louis with a drive to delve into the unknown; his days as a young bebop trumpeter and work with jazz legend Charlie Parker that established Davis in the music scene; his emergence as the leader of the "cool" and "hard bop" jazz movement; the recording of his masterpiece, Kind of Blue; his great creative strides in the 1960s with one of the greatest small groups in jazz history; his forays into the electronic music revolution of the 1970s and the influential sound he created; and the hardships and achievements of his final years.
Each section will also explore such issues as the migration of African Americans from the economically depressed and racially intolerant south, many of whom settled in East St. Louis and brought with them such diverse musical styles as ragtime, jazz and blues. Davis will also be placed in the context of bebop culture, the "cool" aesthetic, and race and the civil rights movement.

Regional History Component
A timeline of events in East St. Louis history and culture will run parallel to each thematic section in Miles. Key events will include the founding of the city; the brutal race riot of 1917; the burgeoning music scene of the 1930s, '40s and '50s; the decline of industry; middle class flight; the arrival of Katherine Dunham and attempts at revitalization through arts and culture; the economic nadir of the 1980s; and the hopeful beginnings of its renaissance in the 1990s. This segment of the exhibition will provide another opportunity to explore the city's tumultuous history shaped by issues of race, class, economic disparity and struggle for renewal, reaffirming the links among man, music and place.

Opening May 13, 2001, Miles: A Miles Davis Retrospective will be on display at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park at Lindell and DeBaliviere, Daily: 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Tuesdays until 8 p.m. Admission includes the audio tour and is $5 for adults; $4 seniors, students, tour groups and free for MHS members. Admission is free on Mondays. Free admission for pre-registered school groups and youth groups courtesy of Schnuck Markets, Inc. To register, call 314/361-9017.

For more information on Miles: A Miles Davis Retrospective, visit the Missouri Historical Society's web site at or call 314/746-4599.