Evolution of Miles Davis Festival.

Building a Miles Davis Festival is invariably intricate, adventurous, and fun at the same time. What makes it especially fun now is the richness of the jazz movement among young generations around the world.

For that reason alone, our mission became apparent. Though we continue to ponder what Miles Davis would do or say under any circumstance, including his 100th birthday, he always said…

Keep moving Jazz forward.

In fact, we believe if Miles were here today, he would be in space with Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, deliberating intergalactic jazz.

From Montreux’s jazz, soul and blues roots to Copenhagen’s “Future Sound of Jazz” fusing jazz is fusing cultures. It’s the new Bitches Brew, a futuristic fusion project designed to bring diverse cultures together with music.

Miles Davis Festival logo

In 1998, Missouri History Museum’s director, Dr. Robert Archibald, created a stellar advisory board to build the first major museum exhibit MILES: A Miles Davis Retrospective. It would be the first to examine the role of East St. Louis & St. Louis in shaping his art and legacy–and how it transcended to Brazil, Montreal, and Paris.

East St. Louis’ participation (where Miles grew up) was the heart and soul of the Exhibit. Beginnings are important to understand a person you know. Miles Davis’ father was a dentist and his mother was a music teacher. Many East St. Louisans contributed with interviews, artifacts, stories, and photos of Miles growing up at his home on Kansas Avenue. Elwood Buchanan, Jr. whose father was Miles’ music teacher at Lincoln Senior High School is in our photo archives at this link.

On the advisory board were Professors Eugene B. Redmond, Quincy Troupe, Gerald Early, Cheryl Davis, et al. The exhibit, Miles: A Miles Davis Retrospective, would launch in 2001 for the 75th birthday. The intention was to interweave new exhibit technology with Miles Davis’ voice and his music throughout the exhibit.

Dr. Robert Archibald, Missouri History Society/Museum

Dr. Robert Archibald, President – Missouri History Society/Museum

East St. Louis

Miles Davis Festival is about creativity, change, expansion, experimentation, boldness, and style. 

All roads lead to 100 Years of Miles with 100-Milestones, a city-wide project to offer festival visitors the opportunity to experience a city with prideful people and art at its core.  

Our mission is the expansion of jazz futurism while educating the history of classical jazz and importance of its role in the world.

This was East St. Louis’ moment to add its own flavor to complement the St. Louis exhibit, and join worldwide events planned for the occasion. We needed something big, and a Miles Davis Festival felt organic. Most important, it couldn’t be just ‘any’ festival. Deborah Granger and Dr. Eugene B. Redmond founded the festival under the nonprofit literary organization, Renaissance Literary Arts Press. With the help of Cheryl Davis, a Miles Davis Arts Festival came to life. Missouri History Museum’s Miles Davis Retrospective ran for eleven months and exceeded expectations.

Deborah Granger and Dr. Eugene B. Redmond

Producer Deborah Granger and Dr. Eugene B. Redmond

Miles Davis Retrospective Museum Panel

Miles Davis Retrospective Museum Panel: Gene Dobbs Bradford-Jazz at the Bistro, Mayor Debra Powell, Miles Davis’ grandson Paul Scott, and Professor Eugene B. Redmond – Poet Laureate, ESL

Ameritech awards Miles Davis Arts Festival $10,000 at Davis Family Home

Among various partners and sponsors, including the City of East St. Louis and Casino Queen Riverboat, Miles Davis Festival receives $10,000 from Ameritech (now AT&T) at Davis Family home. Standing with Deborah holding check is Cheryl Davis, Ameritech rep, Linda Lawson, and Dr. Eugene B. Redmond

Casino Queen Owner, Deborah Granger, Ron Longley
Deborah Granger with Casino Queen Riverboat owner and Communications Director Ron Longley

The Jimmy Cobb “Kind of Blue” Panel

At the time, Jimmy Cobb was the only living member from Miles Davis’ band who recorded the #1 Jazz Album … ever sold, KIND OF BLUE. Mr. Cobb is here with classical pianist Eugene Haynes, producer Deborah Granger, Poet Laureate Eugene B. Redmond, and Miles’ nephew Vince Wilburn, Jr.

2002 Panel with Jimmy Cobb

The Jimmy Cobb panel: Bob Bennett, Jazz at the Bistro; Classical pianist Eugene Haynes; Missouri History Museum Curator Dr. Ben Cawthra; Special guest drummer Jimmy Cobb; Miles nephew Vince Wilburn, Jr.; Eduator Redina Medley; and Historian Reginald Petty

Hanging out with Poet Eugene Redmond, Eddie Fisher and Sunshine

The Round Table committee – (seated) Eugene B. Redmond, Christina and Eddie Fisher, Edie Bee Anderson, Deborah Granger, Edna Patterson Petty, Anne Walker, and Sunshine

About the artist C’Babi Bayoc

Deborah Granger

Meeting young artist C’babi Bayoc for the first time to commission the festival artwork, he was the new hot emerging artist of the Midwest. The textures and visionary complexities of his subjects impressed me the most. C’babi painted the portrait on precious wood, and very few artists can actually paint Miles.

I remember young babies playing, having fun, being happy around Daddy and his work. It was one of the most endearing encounters I had while producing the Miles Davis Festival.

Now, C’babi spends his time interweaving his passions on a variety of projects that include children’s book illustrations, amusement parks for Six Flags, community and school murals and his bestselling “365 Days with Dad” painting project. He is always up for a new challenge. C’Babi also enjoys traveling to schools and talking with students about their own power in determining their destiny, using his own life experiences as lessons. He also enjoys spending time embarrassing his three teenage children.

Bebop was about change, about evolution. It wasn’t about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change. Miles Davis.