When Miles Davis first saw Wallace Roney play a set at Birdland, he approached him after the show and asked him which brand of trumpet he played. Wallace told him that he couldn’t afford a trumpet and was borrowing horns wherever he could. Miles gifted him his own trumpet on the spot. In that moment, Wallace became Miles Davis’ only protege. As the legend neared death in 1991, he bequeathed to Wallace a composition written for him by Wayne Shorter years earlier. It was a multi-part composition for a 16-piece jazz orchestra entitled “The Universe.” The composition was so grandiose that when Shorter presented Miles with the music, Miles reacted by saying, “I asked for a tune and you gave me a fucking symphony.” Unable to record the music before his death, he left it to his protege. Twenty-five years later, the stars have aligned to allow Wallace Roney to finally record “The Universe.”
“The Universe, to Miles Davis” will capture the journey of this composition from its origins, with interviews featuring Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis’ widow, through its realization in rehearsals and in the recording studio this Summer. But the film will be more than the story of a composition; it is also the portrait of jazz in the 21st century and what it means to live and die for your craft.