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Miles Dewey Davis III

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"I know what I've done for music, but don't call me a legend. Just call me Miles Davis", these are such humble words from perhaps one of the most influential Jazz musicians of the era. Miles Davis' genius has extended far past the reaches of any jazz musician before him; he consistently pushed the boundary and expanded the influence of jazz into other genres of music, while furthering the progression of jazz itself. Over the span of his fifty-year career, Davis contributed a "stylistically diverse amount of music" (Gridley). In summary here are some of the great accomplishments Davis did: One of the substantial creators in Bop along with Charlie Parker, he created a new style of trumpeting, He recorded perhaps the largest volumes of recordings for any jazz musician in history, he influenced many trumpeters like Wynton Marsalis and more, helped found the movement known as Cool Jazz, pioneered the modern quintet as we know it, and lastly defined Jazz fusion styles from "modal jazz." (Gridley) These are only a few of the things Miles Davis accomplished on paper, but he did so much more for Jazz. He brought about a new image for jazz, and a certain cool demeanor, and fashionable clothes.

Miles Dewey Davis III was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois. Although he grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois. He was born into a fairly successful family, and his his mother was a blues pianist. However, it was not until Miles was thirteen that his father bought him a trumpet and music lessons. Davis described this experience as; "I was minding my own business when something says to me, "you ought to blow trumpet." I have just been trying ever since." He toured locally with Billy Eckstein's band while in highschool, but in 1944 after graduating he went to New York under the pretense of attending Julliard School of music, but his true intentions lie with him joining Charlie Parker's band. In the 1940's Davis played with many bands, but most notably played in Charlie Parker's Quintet. But in 1948 Davis decided to steer his career into another direction, he formed his first nonet that featured unusual instruments like the French horn and the Tuba. This nonet included Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz, and in a short matter of time the group was signed to Capitol Records. This introduced him to one of his future long time arrangers Gil Evans. And through this nonet came the album "The Birth of Cool." Which literally was the birth of a new style of Jazz, Cool Jazz, also known as West Coast Jazz, which was primarily known for it's smoother and more economic use of notes unlike Bebop's hard rough, choppy notes. By 1950 though, like many musicians in New York at the time, Davis developed a Heroin addiction which drastically slowed down his production, until in 1954 he returned home where with the support of his family he was able to break his addiction and continue in doing what he does best, making innovative and groundbreaking music. On Davis' return he quickly formed what became to be know as "The Classic Miles Davis Quintet." This quintet contained Tenor Sax John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer "Philly Joe" Jones. They recorded famous records such as: Steamin', Cookin', Workin' and Relaxin'. The music was so refreshing and original, that it rejuvenated the Jazz scene. But it was not until the addition of Cannonball Adderly that the band achieved a technical notoriety. Their album "Milestones" introduced a new way of improvisation, the old style relied on chord progressions. This new style introduced two modes, a 16-measure mode and a 16 back to the final 8 measure mode. This required less focus from the improvisers which allowed them to create more intricate melodies and rhythms. (Gridley) After his time with his Quintet/ Sextet Davis once again returned to the arranger Gil Evans and began to corroborate with him. This time around, Davis was the only soloist in a big band. The band also included many different instruments varying from the traditional Sax to the French horn, harp, flutes, and even a bassoon. Davis released a few albums with this band, all of them were a great success. One of the important contributions to music in general, was the use of editing to string the tracks together so the record flowed as a continuous stream of music. On a personal note, Miles Davis once stated that Gil Evans was his best friend. After replacing Garland and Jones with Jimmy Cobb and Bill Evans, Davis then went on to record perhaps one of his most famous records of all time Kind of Blue. After a few tours and a few changes to the band, Davis moved on in 1964. Davis' second great quintet now contained drummer Tony Williams, bassist Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock. "After 1964, Davis favored tunes that did not have bridges, complex turnarounds, or any section demarcations which could easily act aas barriers to an unencumbered, free flowing sound." (Gridley) This band had one of the most complex and fresh rhythm sections

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