Experience Miles Davis through multimedia production at The Lyric Theatre in Stuart

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Miles Davis Experience, a multimedia music production, will intertwine jazz, poetry and 1950s American history at two performances on Nov. 20 at The Lyric Theatre in Stuart.

"I think this is worthy of a movie," said Jason Palmer, the professional trumpeter and composer who will lead the performance.

Palmer, 32, said he has never been a part of a production like The Miles Davis Experience, because aside from influential jazz music, the show features spoken-word poetry readings, vintage clothing and photographs from Davis's early career. The performance aims to draw the audience into the cultural context Davis wrote in from 1949 to 1959, celebrating his life while making his music relevant to a younger generation.

A bass guitarist, drummer, pianist and tenor saxophonist will accompany Palmer on trumpet, simulating the kind of quintet Davis would have played with.

Palmer said he began listening to Miles Davis albums as a teenager in the mid 90s but never thought he would represent the jazz icon on stage.

"The challenge is having his name on the bill," he said. "It's a lot to live up to, but Davis is part of the reason I got into jazz in the first place."

While playing trumpet in his high school's marching band, Palmer bought a copy of Davis's album "My Funny Valentine," based solely on the musician's serious look on the cover.

"He looked so debonair," Palmer said. "I was instantly attracted to jazz."

Now, Palmer tours throughout the U.S. and Europe playing jazz festivals and theaters as a member of Grace Kelly's Quintet. The June 2007 issue of Downbeat Magazine named him one of the top 25 trumpeters of the future.

In The Miles Davis Experience, Palmer said he wants to give the audience the opportunity to hear Davis live, but he explained it would be unfair to try to copy Davis note for note.

He hopes people will connect with the struggles that inspired Davis more than five decades ago.

"This will be a really culturally enriching experience," Palmer said.