Sandy Kenyon reviews 2 films, opera about late, great giants of jazz

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Friday, April 1, 2016
Sandy Kenyon reviews 2 films, opera about late, great giants of jazz
Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has the latest details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It is going to be quite a weekend for a trio of late, great giants of jazz, thanks to two new films and an opera.

A movie about Miles Davis hits theaters, while his mentor is the focus of an opera in Harlem. Additionally, one of his contemporaries is played by Ethan Hawke in another film already out.

Don Cheadle has attitude to burn as Davis, and the result is "Miles Ahead" of most bio-pics. It is a complicated tale of a complicated life, which the star and now director makes clear.

Ewan McGregor co-stars as a Rolling Stone magazine reporter, and not everything we see actually happened. But if certain details have been changed, Cheadle gets the essentials just right, never more so than when he is seen playing along to the maestro's real solos.

The movie covers a period of time when Davis was using a lot of drugs, so much cocaine that he actually put down his horn for five years, and the film doesn't sugarcoat his often troubled relationships with women.

Still, the loose structure allows for much musing about different times in his life.

Cheadle's performance is better than the movie as a whole, but "Miles Ahead" is still worthwile to see. And so is "Born to be Blue" starring Hawke as Chet Baker.

The films debut at the same time as an opera called "Yardbird," which was the nickname of jazz great Charlie Parker.

The show, the first opera ever to be performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, opens Friday at 8 p.m. with an additional performance on Sunday at 3 p.m.