Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle's new film about Miles Davis, takes place in 1979, toward the end of his silent years that began in 1975 after a perfect internal storm of burnout, creative block, and various health issues. In 1982, when Musician Magazine asked what he did during that time, Miles answered: "Nothin'. Gettin' high. I didn't feel like playing the trumpet, didn't feel like listening to music. Didn't want to hear it, see it, smell it, nothin' about it... I didn't come out of the house for about four years... But then Dizzy came around and said, 'What the fuck are you doing? You were put here to play music!' So I started back."
When the comeback finally commenced, soon after Miles Ahead leaves us, the ideas poured forth, and he was as prolific (and focused) as ever until 1991, when he passed away at 65. Call it his Second Electric Period (the first being 1968–75), and it can be divided into two short chapters: ’81–85 and ’86–91, after he left longtime label Columbia. Among listeners it’s his least explored phase, and the easiest to overlook — or unfairly write off. Critics were usually divided in this period: Some would say (name-record-here) “was his best in five/ten years,” while others were sure to poo-poo it.