Q&A: Charlie Hall talks Miles Davis and his Get Up With It project

get up with it
Charlie Hall | photo courtesy of the artist

Charlie Hall is many things. He’s a drummer (you might recognize him from The War on Drugs), he’s the leader of an incredible a cappella group (check out The Silver Ages next January), and he’s a pretty knowledgeable Miles Davis enthusiast. On Wednesday, August 24th, the Philadelphia resident will combine two of those talents when he performs with Get Up With It, a group of musicians from Philly and NYC who will bring Davis’ music to Johnny Brenda’s for a rare live appearance.

We caught up with Hall over email to hear about his nearly life-long exploration and education of Davis’ catalog, how that morphed into a live ensemble and where he finds Davis’ legacy in contemporary music; read what he has to say below, and pick up tickets for the 21+ show here. Continue reading →


Robert Glasper and Bilal reimagine Miles Davis on “Ghetto Walkin” for Everything’s Beautiful LP

Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper | Photo courtesy of the artist

Jazz/hip-hop/experimental music genius Robert Glasper has been prepping his new album Everything’s Beautiful, which combines new original recordings with various samples and inspiration from the extensive and provocative career of jazz great Miles Davis. This week, Glasper shared the video for the single “Ghetto Walkin” which features Philly native Bilal on vocals. Continue reading →


XPN MusicNotes: Watch trailer for Miles Davis film, Chris Martin imitate Jagger and Bowie, & John Kasich says he’ll reunite Pink Floyd if elected

Exciting news for #milesaheadfilm! #NYFF #worldpremiere #doncheadle @mcgregor_ewan #emayatzycorinealdi

A photo posted by Miles Ahead (@milesaheadfilm) on

There’s been a lot of buzz lately on Don Cheadle‘s performance as Miles Davis in the soon to be released film “Miles Ahead.” Now see the first trailer with Chaedle bringing the legendary jazz trumpeter to life. Continue reading →


When Miles Davis played the Electric Factory in 1970 (Happy Birthday, Miles)

miles-davis Happy Birthday, Miles Davis, born this day in 1926. On November 17, 1970 Miles played a set at the old Electric Factory with a band that included Davis on trumpet, Jack DeJohnette on drums, Michael Henderson on electric bass, Keith Jarrett on keyboards (electric piano and organ), Gary Bartz on alto and soprano saxophone and Airto Moreira on percussion. Below, watch and listen to some of the tunes they played that night. The video quality is grainy and shot in black and white, however the audio is extremely clear. The show was seven months after the release of the revolutionary and classic forever Bitches Brew and captures some serious funkiness and improvisation of the electric Miles period.

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Get up with Get Up With It! featuring Eric Slick, Charlie Hall, Dave Hartley: a Miles Davis tribute concert this Friday

Multi-instrumentalist Charlie Hall (Silver Ages, War On Drugs and Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society) has assembled an all-star collective to perform the music of Miles Davis (and beyond) this Friday evening, June 15th at Cianfrani Park (8th and Fitzwater Streets) from 7 – 9 p.m. The event is free. The band consists of Hall and Eric Slick (Dr. Dog) on double drums, Dave Hartley (War On Drugs, Nightlands) on percussion and electronics, guitarists Ross Bellenoit and Luke Westbrook, bassist Ezra Gale, Mitch Marcus on Fender Rhodes and tenor sax, Jeff Pettit on alto sax, Luke Brandon on the trumpet and some surprise guests. The repertoire, says Hall, will “dig pretty heavily into the On The Corner, Agharta, and Bitches Brew moods of Miles.” Go here for more information.


The High Key Portrait Series: Dave Davis of Sun Ra Arkestra

Dave Davis | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Dave Davis | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

This Monday, Johnny Brenda’s will host a show that’s become a standing Philly tradition: a spaced-out afrofuturistic psychedelic New-Orleans-style big band-tastic freaky Halloween celebration courtesy the Sun Ra Arkestra. The show is an outright spectacle as they try to find room not only for all the many Arkestra members, on the precious real estate of the Brenda’s stage, but for all the swinging horns as well.

For this installment of High Key we caught up with Dave Davis, who’s blown a trombone with the Arkestra for over twenty years, and who never misses a gig. Davis is decidedly soft-spoken and understated, and as he spins tale after tale about his history and career among Philly arts giants you lean in, and hang on his words. He’s engaging, charming, the personified illustration of the benefits of pursuing your dreams and following your heart, and he has this wide-eyed-kid-from-Kansas exuberance about having lived in and loved Philly that, for him, makes even the advantage of big city public transit something to be excited about without a trace of irony. With a slow, easy smile, Davis manages to share that infectious, refreshing exuberance so relatably, both in his words and in his music.

Philly’s beloved Arkestra suffered the passing of its founder in 1993, but the now 92-year-old maestro and director Marshall Allen hasn’t lost a step yet in keeping up the traditions, from international stages to regularly local engagements all over the city as well, from the Art Museum’s “Art After 5” Program to local jazz festivals to favorite Philly clubs like Brenda’s. Although this holiday’s event at is already sold out, as always, opportunities to catch them live in Philly abound, as the band continue to be as prolific and active on the touring circuit as ever.

To this day, the Arkestra still convenes for rehearsals at Sun Ra’s West Philly home, and when asked about the latest horizons, Davis notes at the wealth of the untapped archives that the band is still combing through and bringing to life. “He has a stack of music that’s never been played,” says Davis of the late composer and bandleader Sun Ra. “He wrote a tune everyday for The Creator. He has a lotta tunes that he recorded on tapes, so we’re constantly playing new Sun Ra music.” Continue reading →


Talking Miles Ahead with Philly jazzman Josh Lawrence

Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead | photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead | photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The idea of Don Cheadle playing Miles Davis has been floating around for at least a decade, ever since the legendary trumpeter’s son, Erin Davis, and nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr., proposed the idea while inducting Davis into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. The notion finally came to big-screen fruition this year as Miles Ahead, in a form different than anyone might have expected (it opens at the Ritz Five on tonight).

Doubling as director, Cheadle deviated from the standard biopic format to create a heist-movie fantasia with Miles at its center,aiming for the spirit rather than the factual reality of its subject. I wondered how the film might look to someone directly influenced by Miles’ music, so I invited trumpeter Josh Lawrence, co-founder of the Fresh Cut Orchestra and host of the Thursday night jazz series at Jose Garces’ Volver Restaurant, to attend a screening with me and discuss the film afterward.  Continue reading →