One of the most celebrated figures in the history of jazz is Miles Davis. He was born as Miles Dewey Davis, Jr. on May 25, 1926 at Alton, Illinois. His father was a dental surgeon while his mother was a musician who played violin and piano. Perhaps, his inclination in music was ignited by his mother’s influence (Carr). Davis joined the band of Eddie Randle Blue Devils in 1942 in which he used to be with during his high school days. He first became exposed to the modern jazz music when he was 18 through a music tour of Billy Eckstein.
He became fascinated of the jazz music and decided to become a substitute when the trumpeter of Eckstein’s band got ill (Cook). He went with Eckstein in New York where he pursued a study on classical music. He went to school during the days and played with the band during the nights. In 1945, he decided to join Parker’s quintet and became the leader of the band after two years. To describe Davis music style, Nat Hentoff, a jazz writer, illustrated the fundamental components employed by Davis, namely: “reminiscent use of space, sparseness, profound fire underneath it all, and passionate lyricism (Chambers).
” The modernization he contributed to jazz in the second quarter of the 20th century was so unfathomable with regards to its range and significance. A sequence of gathering cut with a nine-piece band throughout 1949 and 1950 called The Birth of the Cool (Cook), Davis made bops’ character with a suppler and composed lyricism. With this, Robert Palmer described the impact of The Birth of the Cool as “something which started the switch over of ideas between the European classical music and jazz. ” In the mid fifties, Davis formed a well-known quintet.
Their group went on to record other milestones just like Round about Midnight which marked his 30 years of association with the Columbia Records (Carr). In 1957m Davis worked on with Miles Ahead, which he attributed to Miles Davis + 19. This allowed him to be reunited with Gil Evans whom he was able to work with during The Birth of the Cool. The changes came rapid and livid as the transition between the fifties and sixties went on. In 1959, Davis worked with a sextet with which he was able to do the inconspicuous work of art Kind of Blue (Cook).
David worked with a quintet during the sixties which include Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Among their songs were E. S. P. , Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, and Filles de Kilimanjaro which were made during 1965 up to 1969 (Carr). Also in 1969 that Davis was able to launch his groundbreaking hit Bitches Grew (Cook), which made a remarkable success in the music industry. His music was later on influenced and inspired by the rock styles of Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix.
He brought a scorching, rock-enamored deep feeling to Bitches Grew, Jack Johnson and Live Evil during 1969 up to 1972. His obsession with funk and rock themes crested with his song On the Corner (1972). He employed the styles he saw from other musicians and composers such as Sly Stone, James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, Paul Buckmaster, and Karlheinz (Chambers). This was also the time when he included three electric guitarists in his group and when his music became even more ethereal and tremendous.
Agharta, Pangaea and Dark Magus (Cook) were the albums that David made employing such genre and especially made for difficult listening. These albums also influenced rock trends such as No Wave, electronic, punk-funk, industrial, and grunge. Those albums also became signs of Davis’ confusion and tumult throughout one of the gloomy stages in his life (Carr). From 1975 up to 1981, Davis became invisible in the music scene. In his return in 1981, he recorded The Man with the Horn.
He followed another record but by this time, a double live album namely We Want Miles and Star People, which was labeled as his most “blues-minded (Chambers)” soundtrack in several years. As an end to his association and partnership with the Columbia Records, he did Decoy in 1984 and You’re Under Arrest in 1985, where he incorporated a rendition of Human Nature by Michael Jackson, and Time after Time by Cindy Lauper (Cook). In the mid eighties, his returned with the Warner Bros was marked by his albums Tutu and Siesta in 1986 (Cook).
He then launched his best-seller album which named as Miles: The Autobiography in 1989 (Chambers). His last project was with a Brooklyn rapper named Easy Mo Bee with which he did Doo Bop. Until the very last days of his life, Davis was still pursuing his passion for music. He died due to severe illness brought by pneumonia, stroke and respiratory failure in September 28, 1991 at Santa Monica, California (Carr). As a tribute to his great contributions in the music industry, Davis received lots of awards and acknowledgments upon after his death and the following years.
Such tribute appropriately and justly deserved to be given to him. As a matter of fact, his musical talent received much recognition even before he died. He received many Grammy Awards (Chambers) and his name was even included in different walk- of- fame avenues (Cook) particularly in Jazz and Rap-Rock genres.
Works Cited Carr, Ian. Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2006. Chambers, J. K. Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press, 1998. Cook, Richard. It’s About That Time: Miles Davis On and Off Record. Oxford University Press, 2007.