“People just stop being interesting—know what I mean? They go so far and then they stop. There’s no more. Somehow I'm never with a woman more than seven years. Some don’t go longer than a few minutes. When the music stops, I’m done and need to move on.”—Miles Davis It was 1968. Jo Gelbard was an eighteen-year-old art student in New York City when she gave up her aspirations to be a painter and married the man she thought was the love of her life. True to her traditional upbringing, she devoted herself to her husband and son and lived what looked like the perfect life—even as she began slowly disappearing as a person. Then, on a January morning in 1984, a chance encounter with a fellow tenant in her Upper East Side high-rise took Jo completely by surprise. It was Miles Davis, arguably the greatest and most influential jazz musician in the world. Married to award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, he was a Platinum-selling trumpeter, bandleader, and film composer. For both Jo and Miles, the connection was immediate, unmistakable, and thrilling. Over time, their casual friendship escalated into a disruptive yet liberating affair that would build Jo’s self-esteem, give her dormant artistic ambitions a shot of adrenaline, and catch her absolutely off guard. But Miles, charming, inviting, and sensual, had a dark side—cruel, reckless, jealous, and frighteningly intense. And at thirty-two years old—married for fourteen years with a seven-year-old son—Jo found herself torn between this fiercely passionate man and her frustratingly indifferent husband, living a double life, and tormented by her inability to choose between the two. Now, for the first time, Jo shares not only her own journey of self-discovery, but provides a rare, inside portrait of Miles Davis himself, and the private demons that fueled his genius. Ultimately, MILES AND JO: LOVE STORY IN BLUE is the story of two artists, striving for individuality, alone and together.
Jo Gelbard is a painter whose collaborative work with Miles Davis has been exhibited worldwide, including in the Whitney Museum Biennale, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and at Musee de la Musique, France. Alongside their collaborative installations, her solo work has been shown in Paris, Rotterdam, and London. She is a mother and grandmother, and lives in New York City.