This post will be dedicated to one the most influential jazz players of his time, Miles Davis. At the age of 18 he left for New York to make a name for himself in the jazz world. Through out his career he was known as a pioneer, who brought about modern jazz. Winning a total of nine Grammy’s, Miles Davis passed away of repertory distress in Santa Monica, California on September 28, 1991 at the age of 65.
His Early Life-
Miles Davis was born on May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois, to a successful dental surgeon and music teacher. His father gave him his first trumpet at the age of 13. He took private lessons from one of his fathers close friends Elwood Buchanan, who was a director for a music school. Davis quickly learned that he had a knack for playing the trumpet. Buchanan taught Davis to play the trumpet with out vibrato, which went against customary playing styles of common trumpeters like Louis Armstrong. This would come to influence Davis’s career and help him develop his own unique playing style.
When Davis was in high school he played professionally. At the age of 18 he left Illinois for New York to begin his real career. He soon enrolled into Julliard School, at the time it was known as the Institute of Musical Art.
While attending Julliard, Davis met Charles Parker; the two formed a jazz band that would play late nights at Harlem nightclubs. Davis would meet numerous musicians through out his gigs and would eventually form the basis for bebop, a fast, improvisational style of jazz that defined a modern jazz.
In 1945 Davis dropped out of Julliard to become a full time jazz musician. At the time he was a part of the Charlie Parker Quintet and Davis had created his first recording as a bandleader in 1946. From 1945 to 1948, Davis and Parker recorded unceasingly. During this time Davis worked on perfecting his improvisational style.
In 1954 Davis would perform “Round Midnight” at the Newport Jazz Festival, where he would land a recording contract with Columbia Records. He would go on to create a permanent band with famous jazz players John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, and Red Garland.
Davis and his sextet recorded numerous albums though out the 1950’s, including Porgy, Bess, andKind of Blue. His final album of that decade, Kind of Blue, was released in 1959. Which is personally one of my favorite jazz albums and considered on of the best jazz albums of all time. Selling more than two million copies it was awarded for being the largest sold jazz album.
Success continued to follow Davis through out the 1960s. His band changed for the better over time, due to change in style and new band members. Many of his band members went on to build successful careers them selves, during the jazz-fusion era. These included Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Billy Cobham, and Joe Zawinul.
The development of the jazz-fusion was said to be heavily influenced by rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, showing the “fusion” of jazz and rock. The album Bitches Brew, recorded right after the Wood Stock Music Festival in 1969, was known for bringing about the jazz-fusion. Although many of Davis’s old fans didn’t really appreciate the album, Bitches Brew, quickly became a best selling album. Landing him on the front cover of Rolling Stones magazine becoming the first ever-jazz player to become so noticed.
The famous Jazz player goes on to fall in and out of Drugs, but manages to sober at the help of his lovely wife Cicley Tyson, an American actress. He also builds a feud with fellow jazz artist Wynton Marsalis. His biggest hit since Bitches Brew, was Tutu, in 1985. The album-incorporated synthesizers, drum loops, and samples. The album became well known and earned him another Grammy Music Award. His final Grammy came from his album, Aura. Made as tribute to the Miles Davis “aura”.
Miles Davis was definitely one of the most influential jazz players of his time and is one of my favorites for bringing about the “fusion”, which is one of favorite genres of jazz.