The estate of the late jazz trumpeter Miles Davis will team up this summer and fall with several St. Louis area organizations and venues to present the Miles Davis Festival, a series of concerts, exhibits and celebrations of Davis' musical legacy that organizers hope will become an annual event.
In a news conference held on Thursday - the 85th anniversary of Davis' birth - at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, producer Deborah Granger of the Miles Davis Festival and Miles Davis Properties LLC outlined plans for the festival, which will include:
* A series of jazz concerts beginning in July featuring young musicians from East St. Louis and St. Louis, presented in conjunction with the Nu-Art Series at the Metropolitan Gallery, 2396 Locust St., and at BB's, Jazz, Blues and Soups, 700 S. Broadway;
* Monthly outdoor performances at the Grand Marais golf course in Centreville, IL;
* Photo and art exhibits of Davis and "Friends of Miles," provided by the Sony/Legacy record label and displayed at the Metropolitan Gallery and the Sheldon Art Galleries;
* A giveaway of a free copy of The Genius of Miles Davis, the lavish box-set-of-box-sets that presents the complete body of work Davis recorded for Columbia Records between 1955-1985; and
* A "premier event" in honor of Davis in September at the Sheldon Concert Hall.
Granger said a complete schedule of events and artists was in the works and will be made public soon. Davis' estate also is planning similar celebrations for New York City and Los Angeles, she said.
During the press conference, a quartet of young musicians from East St. Louis performed several selections written by or associated with Davis. Nu-Art Series director George Sams said the group - alto saxophonist Kendrick Smith, trumpeter Brady Lewis, keyboardist Brian Harrison and drummer Michael Walker - would be one of those featured in the July concert series. Author and poet Eugene Redmond, an East.St. Louisan who knew Davis while growing up, offered some anecdotes about the trumpeter and read two poems dedicated to him.
Davis, who was born in Alton and raised in East St. Louis, died in 1991. Both cities since have begun to hold their own annual commemorations of his legacy, and Granger said she would welcome the chance to work with them, as well with other local organizations. She also said the festival is seeking local volunteers to help staff their events.