Don Cheadle on Learning to Play the Trumpet: ‘It’s a Mean Instrument’

Don Cheadle says he began to play the trumpet three years ago as preparation for starring in and directing the Miles Davis biopic “Kill the Trumpet Player.”

He found the trumpet to be unforgiving.

“It’s a mean instrument,” he mused Thursday night at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica. “It’s a relief that my playing won’t be used in the film.”

Cheadle and IM Global’s Stuart Ford hosted the event with a jazz band that included keyboard player Deron Johnson, who toured with Davis; Matt Von Roderick on trumpet; JP Maramba on bass; and Royce Shorter, nephew of Davis sideman Wayne Shorter, on drums.

Cheadle said he first heard about the project in 2006 when Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Vince Wilburn announced I was going to play Miles, and it was the first I’d heard of it,” he recalled. “It’s not the first time that’s happened.”

“Trumpet” has Herbie Hancock taking on exec producer and musical supervisor duties. Ewan McGregor and Zoe Saldana are also starring. IM Global is handling international sales at AFM.

Cheadle said shooting will start next summer. “We still haven’t decided where,” he added. “That depends on things like tax credits.”

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