Miles Davis

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.

Career Beginnings-

Miles

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 PorgyBess, 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.

22 fusion

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.

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Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, or “Satchmo” as he was commonly known, was an American jazz musician popular in the early to mid 1900s. Born in 1907, he had a hugely successful jazz career, transforming the genre from its earliest regional roots into a true, distinguished art form in its own right. Armstrong could sing and play trumpet, making him one of the most talented musicians in jazz. For those of you who are big fans of Armstrong, did you know he has a museum in New York? www.louisarmstronghouse.org

Birth and Roots

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, where he spent most of his youth in poverty. He played the cornet at first, having followed the city’s brass band events and listening to other musicians frequently. He got his start following the likes of Joe Oliver, Bunk Johnson, and Buddy Petit. Armstrong talked about his time aboard the Fate Marable, a major riverboat in New Orleans, as “university” because he got to play with a number of different jazz arrangements.

Career

Louis Armstrong went to Chicago in 1922, where he started playing with Joe Oliver in the Creole Jazz Band. this was one of the major jazz bands in Chicago at the time, and Armstrong started recording during this period. He eventually moved up to New York City to play with Fletcher Henderson, switching to trumpet. He made a number of important contacts such as Clarence Williams, and started accompanying blues singers on the trumpet at this point. He also started recording as his own name around this time, finally moving to Los Angeles in 1930. In the next 30 years, he would play more than 300 gigs per year.

Legends

In 1950, Louis Armstrong eventually went back to Dixieland as his main style of influence. At this point he started playing with Jack Teagarden, Arvell Shaw, and Barney Bigard, among others. He had a very busy schedule touring right up until the year before his death. His health ultimately failed in 1971, when he died of a heart attack.

Impact

Louis Armstrong recorded many important songs in his career, such as La Vie En Rose, Stardust, and What a Wonderful World. He was known for his major influence on jazz as a whole, not just for his unique vocals, but also for his spectacular trumpet playing and rich, dynamic sound. He was a charismatic musician and trumpeter, and clearly loved what he did.

One of the best jazz players

Armstrong came to true prominence in the 20th century, a time in American history when racism was highly prevalent. He was one of the first African American jazz musicians to be well liked among other African American members of the public and white segments of society. He had a very difficult childhood, but found comfort through music, which eventually brought him out of his tough roots and allowed him to earn a living full-time.

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