Miles Davis
Jazz trumpeter
Miles Davis
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.
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MUSIC; Miles Davis, Live at the Apogee
NYTimes - over 5 years
AROUND this time last year it became hard not to see the Miles Davis reissue juggernaut as a snake swallowing its own tail. What cinched the impression was the arrival of ''The Genius of Miles Davis,'' encompassing all of Davis's output for Columbia. It wasn't a bricklike compendium of albums -- that had been done, with great fanfare, the previous
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MH the Verb brings MC skills to 2189 Skateshop tonight - GoErie.com
Google News - over 5 years
Harris, who studied ethnocology and urban studies at Pitt, grew up admiring socially conscious artists such as Q-Tip, as well as Miles Davis and new-jack swing (Jodeci, Teddy Riley). He has nothing against party rock or hip-hop; he'd just like to paint
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Heirs of Miles Davis Sue Miles' Cafe Owner, Who Is Also a Trumpet Player Known ... - ABA Journal
Google News - over 5 years
A New York restaurateur who allegedly claims Miles Davis appeared to him in a dream, leading him to take the legendary jazz musician's first name and open a cafe using that moniker, is now a defendant in a lawsuit
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Michael Wolff is in a Miles Davis groove - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
... a hard-hitting quartet that includes longtime friend Mark Isham on trumpet and jazz-funk colossus Mike Clark on drums (from Herbie Hancock's Headhunters), Wolff promises a night of free-wheeling originals and songs "identified" with Miles Davis
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Miles Davis Trumpet: Monster's jazz-friendly headphones - Recombu
Google News - over 5 years
Monster has introduced Miles Davis Trumpet, high-quality headphones tuned especially for listening to jazz. Monster is of course the company behind the immensely popular Beats By Dr Dre headphones
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Legacy Recordings & Miles Davis Properties, LLC Launch "The Miles Davis Fan ... - PR Newswire (press release)
Google News - over 5 years
Throughout the month of August, 40 classic Miles Davis tracks -- representing multiple aspects and phases of the iconic Davis canon from the post-bop cool of Kind of Blue through the ferocious fusion of Bitches Brew to the meditative Mobius cosmos of
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MAJOR MINOR: Reflections of Miles Davis, Hendrix and Zappa - Columbus Other Paper
Google News - over 5 years
The sons of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew album (1970) came to town Tuesday night at the LC Pavilion. They consisted of Chick Corea's Return to Forever, with bassist Stanley Clarke, drummer Lenny White and French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty
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Miles Davis Tutu: Deluxe Edition - Jazzwise magazine
Google News - over 5 years
1986 There are those dedicated to denigrating Miles Davis' electric period in general and his post-furlough recordings from the 1980s in particular. Although in the case of one critic one suspects the motives for this are for the purposes of
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Thank you for the music - The Express Tribune
Google News - over 5 years
Is it (a) a new Miles Davis retrospective, (b) the latest work by Jamie Cullum or (c) a Pakistani orchestra made up of local musicians from modest backgrounds reworking jazz standards? For those who guessed (c), you are indeed correct — five points to
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Don Cheadle Is Making Progress on Miles Davis Movie - BET
Google News - over 5 years
Through all the projects, Cheadle is still fighting to get the greenlight on a film based on the legendary Miles Davis. "I actually just got off the phone with the studio executives about putting it together," the actor told New York magazine
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Miles Davis Boxed Set from 1967 Shows Due - JazzTimes Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
Columbia/Legacy Recordings will release, on September 20, The Miles Davis Quintet Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol.1. The three-CD/one-DVD package presents audio of full-length concert sets in Antwerp, Copenhagen and Paris
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In Paris, a Tribute to Davis Featuring Three Famed Alumni - New York Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
So it comes as no surprise that a tribute to one of the greatest of them all, Miles Davis, will take place at the Olympia Theater (28, boulevard des Capucines; 33-892-683-368) on Monday, July 18. Three of his band's most famous alumni, the pianist and
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Music DVD Review: Miles Davis - Live at Montreux Highlights 1973-1991 - Seattle Post Intelligencer (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
ORG In shifting from jazz to funk and rock-infused music, Miles Davis became a perplexing but mythical creature. The moments, ones captured on countless recordings, have become the stuff of legend, with the late icon setting the standard for borderless
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Miles Davis
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1991
    Age 64
    Davis died on September 28, 1991, from the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 65.
    More Details Hide Details He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City. Late in his life, from the "electric period" onwards, Davis repeatedly explained his reasons for not wishing to perform his earlier works, such as Birth of the Cool or Kind of Blue. In his view, remaining stylistically static was the wrong option. He commented: " "So What" or Kind of Blue, they were done in that era, the right hour, the right day, and it happened. It's over What I used to play with Bill Evans, all those different modes, and substitute chords, we had the energy then and we liked it. But I have no feel for it anymore, it's more like warmed-over turkey." When Shirley Horn insisted in 1990 that Miles reconsider playing the ballads and modal tunes of his Kind of Blue period, he demurred. "Nah, it hurts my lip," was the reason he gave.
    In early 1991, he appeared in the Rolf de Heer film Dingo as a jazz musician.
    More Details Hide Details In the film's opening sequence, Davis and his band unexpectedly land on a remote airstrip in the Australian outback and proceed to perform for the surprised locals. The performance was one of Davis’ last on film and one of the first released after his death in September. During the last years of Davis' life, there were rumors that he had AIDS, something that he and his manager Peter Shukat vehemently denied. According to Quincy Troupe, Davis was taking azidothymidine (AZT), a type of antiretroviral drug used for the treatment of HIV and AIDS.
    Davis' last albums, both released posthumously, were the hip hop-influenced studio album Doo-Bop (1992) and Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux (1993), a collaboration with Quincy Jones for the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival where, for the first time in three decades, Davis returned to performing songs arranged by Gil Evans on his 1950s albums as Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain.
    More Details Hide Details Some listeners and critics who had been disappointed with his experimental late period were happy that his career ended in such a way.
  • 1990
    Age 63
    In 1990, Davis received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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  • 1989
    Age 62
    In 1989, he was interviewed on 60 Minutes by Harry Reasoner.
    More Details Hide Details Davis followed Tutu with Amandla (1989), another collaboration with Miller and George Duke plus the soundtracks to four films—Street Smart, Siesta, The Hot Spot (with bluesman John Lee Hooker), and Dingo. He continued to tour in the late 1980s with a band of constantly rotating personnel.
  • 1988
    Age 61
    In 1988, Davis had a small part as a street musician in Scrooged, starring Bill Murray.
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  • 1987
    Age 60
    The album was described as the modern counterpart of Sketches of Spain and, in 1987, won Davis his second of three Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist.
    More Details Hide Details He was featured on the instrumental track "Don't Stop Me Now" by Toto for their album Fahrenheit (1986).
  • FIFTIES
  • 1986
    Age 59
    This changed after Marsalis appeared, unannounced, onstage in the midst of Davis’ performance at the inaugural Vancouver International Jazz Festival in 1986.
    More Details Hide Details Marsalis whispered into Davis’ ear that "someone" had told him to do so. Davis responded by ordering him off the stage. Davis grew irritated at Columbia's delay releasing Aura. The breaking point in the label-artist relationship appears to have come when a Columbia jazz producer requested Davis place a goodwill birthday call to Marsalis. Davis signed with Warner Bros. Records shortly thereafter. Davis collaborated with a number of figures from the British post-punk and new wave movements during this period, including Scritti Politti. At the invitation of producer Bill Laswell, he recorded some trumpet parts during sessions for Public Image Ltd. 's Album, according to Public Image's John Lydon in the liner notes of their Plastic Box box set. In Lydon's words, however, "strangely enough, we didn't use contributions." According to Lydon in the Plastic Box notes, Davis favorably compared Lydon's singing voice to his trumpet sound during these sessions.
  • 1985
    Age 58
    Davis noted that many of today's accepted jazz standards were in fact pop songs from Broadway theater, and that he was simply updating the "standards" repertoire with new material. 1985 also saw Davis guest-star on the TV show Miami Vice as pimp and minor criminal Ivory Jones in the episode titled "Junk Love" (first aired November 8, 1985).
    More Details Hide Details You're Under Arrest was Davis’ final album for Columbia. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis publicly dismissed Davis’ more recent fusion recordings as not being "'true' jazz," comments Davis initially shrugged off, calling Marsalis "a nice young man, only confused."
    You're Under Arrest, Davis’ next album, was released in 1985 and included another brief stylistic detour.
    More Details Hide Details Included on the album were his interpretations of Cyndi Lauper's ballad "Time After Time", and Michael Jackson's pop hit "Human Nature". Davis considered releasing an entire album of pop songs and recorded dozens of them, but the idea was scrapped.
  • 1983
    Age 56
    In mid-1983, while working on the tracks for Decoy, an album mixing soul music and electronica that was released in 1984, Davis brought in producer, composer and keyboardist Robert Irving III, who had earlier collaborated with him on The Man with the Horn.
    More Details Hide Details With a seven-piece band, including Scofield, Evans, keyboardist and music director Irving, drummer Al Foster and bassist Darryl Jones (later of the Rolling Stones), Davis played a series of European gigs to positive receptions. While in Europe, he took part in the recording of Aura, an orchestral tribute to Davis composed by Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg.
  • 1982
    Age 55
    By late 1982, Davis’ band included French percussionist Mino Cinelu and guitarist John Scofield, with whom he worked closely on the album Star People.
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  • 1981
    Age 54
    He married Tyson in 1981; they would divorce in 1988.
    More Details Hide Details The Man with the Horn was finally released in 1981 and received a poor critical reception despite selling fairly well. In May, the new band played two dates as part of the Newport Jazz Festival. The concerts, as well as the live recording We Want Miles from the ensuing tour, received positive reviews.
  • 1980
    Age 53
    While recording The Man with the Horn at a leisurely pace throughout 1980–81, Davis played mostly wahwah with a younger, larger band.
    More Details Hide Details The initial large band was eventually abandoned in favor of a smaller combo featuring saxophonist Bill Evans (not to be confused with pianist Bill Evans of the 1958–59 sextet), and bass player Marcus Miller, both of whom would be among Davis’ most regular collaborators throughout the decade.
  • 1979
    Age 52
    By 1979, Davis had rekindled his relationship with actress Cicely Tyson, with whom he overcame his cocaine addiction and regained his enthusiasm for music.
    More Details Hide Details As he had not played trumpet for the better part of three years, regaining his famed embouchure proved particularly toilsome.
    In 1979, he placed in the yearly top-ten trumpeter poll of Down Beat.
    More Details Hide Details Columbia continued to issue compilation albums and records of unreleased vault material to fulfill contractual obligations. During his period of inactivity, Davis saw the fusion music that he had spearheaded over the past decade enter into the mainstream. When he emerged from retirement, Davis’ musical descendants—most notably Prince—would be in the realm of new wave rock.
  • FORTIES
  • 1976
    Age 49
    In 1976, Rolling Stone reported rumors of his imminent demise.
    More Details Hide Details Although he stopped practicing trumpet on a regular basis, Davis continued to compose intermittently and made three attempts at recording during his self-imposed exile from performing; these sessions (one with the assistance of Paul Buckmaster and Gil Evans, who left after not receiving promised compensation) bore little fruit and remain unreleased.
  • 1975
    Age 48
    After a hometown performance at New York City's Schaefer Music Festival on September 5, 1975, Davis withdrew almost completely from the public eye for six years, enabled by an unprecedented special retainer issued by Columbia Records.
    More Details Hide Details Of Davis’ retreat from music, Gil Evans said, "His organism is tired. And after all the music he's contributed for 35 years, he needs a rest." In his memoirs, Davis is characteristically candid about his wayward mental state during this period, describing himself as a hermit, his Upper West Side apartment as a wreck, and detailing his drug and sex addictions.
    However, his precarious health was compounded by an ulcer-related hospitalization in March 1975 and the diagnosis of a hernia in August 1975.
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    By the time the group reached Japan in February 1975, Davis was nearing a physical breakdown and required copious amounts of alcohol and narcotics to make it through his engagements.
    More Details Hide Details Nonetheless, as noted by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, during these concerts his trumpet playing "is of the highest and most adventurous order." Although the Japanese performances have been lauded as the apogee of Davis’ experimental period, Pete Cosey would later assert that "the band really advanced after the Japanese tour." Following his return from Japan, Davis undertook an arduous tour of the American Midwest opening for Herbie Hancock—who had commercially eclipsed his onetime bandleader with such efforts as Thrust (1974) and Man-Child (1975)—culminating in a series of club performances at the Bottom Line in New York City and Paul's Mall in Boston throughout the spring and summer.
  • 1974
    Age 47
    Davis was troubled by osteoarthritis (which led to a hip replacement operation in 1976, the first of several), sickle-cell anemia, depression, bursitis, ulcers, and a renewed dependence on alcohol and drugs (primarily cocaine), and his performances were routinely panned by critics throughout late 1974 and early 1975.
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    In 1974 and 1975, Columbia recorded three double-LP live Davis albums: Dark Magus, Agharta, and Pangaea.
    More Details Hide Details Dark Magus captures a 1974 New York City concert; the latter two are recordings of consecutive concerts from the same February 1975 day in Osaka. At the time, only Agharta was available in the USA; Pangaea and Dark Magus were initially released only by CBS/Sony Japan. All three feature at least two electric guitarists (Reggie Lucas and Pete Cosey, deploying an array of Hendrix-inspired electronic distortion devices; Dominique Gaumont is a third guitarist on Dark Magus), electric bass, drums, reeds, and Davis on electric trumpet and organ. These albums were the last he recorded for five years.
    Initially, Dave Liebman played saxophones and flute with the band; in 1974, he was replaced by Sonny Fortune, who was eventually supplanted by Sam Morrison during the band's final American engagements in 1975.
    More Details Hide Details The length, density, and unforgiving nature of it mocked those who said that Miles was interested only in being trendy and popular. Some have heard in this music the feel and shape of a musician's late work, an egoless music that precedes its creator's death. As Theodor Adorno said of the late Beethoven, the disappearance of the musician into the work is a bow to mortality. Big Fun (1974) was a double album containing four long improvisations, recorded between 1969 and 1972. Similarly, Get Up with It (1974) collected recordings from May 1970 to October 1974. Notably, the album included "He Loved Him Madly", a tribute to Duke Ellington, as well as one of Davis’ most lauded pieces from this era, "Calypso Frelimo". It was his last studio album of the 1970s.
  • 1973
    Age 46
    Through the first half of 1973, he dropped the tabla and sitar, took over keyboard duties, and added guitarist Pete Cosey.
    More Details Hide Details The Davis/Cosey/Lucas/Henderson/Mtume/Foster ensemble would remain virtually intact over the next two years.
  • 1971
    Age 44
    During this period, Davis was committed to making music for the young African-American audience drawn to the more commercial, groove-oriented idioms of popular music that dominated the epoch; by November 1971, DeJohnette and Moreira had been replaced in the touring ensemble by drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler and percussionists James Mtume & Don Alias.
    More Details Hide Details On the Corner (1972) blended the incipient influence of Stockhausen with funk elements in a trenchantly improvisatory milieu. The album was highlighted by the appearance of saxophonist Carlos Garnett. Critics were not kind to the album; in his autobiography, Davis stated that critics could not figure out how to categorize it, and he complained that the album was not promoted to the right crowd. Columbia tried selling the album to the old jazz generation who didn't really understand it instead of the younger crowd that Miles intended the album for. After recording On the Corner, Davis put together a new group, with only Henderson and Mtume returning from the Jarrett-era band. It included Garnett, guitarist Reggie Lucas, organist Lonnie Liston Smith, tabla player Badal Roy, sitarist Khalil Balakrishna, and drummer Al Foster. It was unusual in that only Smith was a major jazz instrumentalist; as a result, the music emphasized rhythmic density and shifting textures instead of individual solos. This group, which recorded in Philharmonic Hall for the album In Concert (1972), was unsatisfactory to Davis.
  • 1970
    Age 43
    Earlier in 1970, Davis contributed extensively to the soundtrack of a documentary about the African-American boxer heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.
    More Details Hide Details Himself a devotee of boxing, Davis drew parallels between Johnson, whose career had been defined by the fruitless search for a Great White Hope to dethrone him, and Davis’ own career, in which he felt the musical establishment of the time had prevented him from receiving the acclaim and rewards that were due him. The resulting album, 1971's Jack Johnson, contained two long pieces that featured musicians (some of whom were not credited on the record) including guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, Herbie Hancock on a Farfisa organ, and drummer Billy Cobham. McLaughlin and Cobham went on to become founding members of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1971. In 1972, Davis was introduced to the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen by Paul Buckmaster, leading to a period of new creative exploration. Biographer J. K. Chambers wrote that "the effect of Davis' study of Stockhausen could not be repressed for long... Davis' own 'space music' shows Stockhausen's influence compositionally." His recordings and performances during this period were described as "space music" by fans, by music critic Leonard Feather, and by Buckmaster, who described it as "a lot of mood changes—heavy, dark, intense—definitely space music."
    By the time of Live-Evil in December 1970, Davis’ ensemble—though retaining the exploratory imperative of Bitches Brew—had transformed into a much more funk-oriented group.
    More Details Hide Details Davis began experimenting with wah-wah effects on his horn. A new sextet including DeJohnette, Jarrett, Moreira, Gary Bartz and erstwhile Stevie Wonder bassist Michael Henderson—often referred to as the "Cellar Door band" (the live portions of Live-Evil were recorded at a Washington, D.C., club by that name)—is documented in the six-CD box set The Cellar Door Sessions, which was recorded over four nights in December 1970 (and included one night with John McLaughlin); however, the ensemble disbanded before recording a studio album.
  • 1969
    Age 42
    Throughout 1969, Davis' touring band included Shorter, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette; the group never completed a studio recording which became subsequently known as Davis' "lost quintet".
    More Details Hide Details The group's live repertoire included material from Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way and the 1960s quintet albums, with an occasional jazz standard. In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew feature extended compositions over 20 minutes in length that were never played straight through in the studio. Instead, Davis and producer Teo Macero selected musical motifs from recorded extended improvisations and pieced them together to form a track. Bitches Brew made extensive use of studio recording techniques including multitrack recording and tape loops. Starting with Bitches Brew, Davis' albums began to feature cover art with psychedelic art or black power imagery than his earlier releases. He took significant cuts in his live performance fees in order to open for rock groups like the Steve Miller Band, Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and Santana. Several live albums (with a transitional sextet/septet including Corea, DeJohnette, Holland, percussionist Airto Moreira, and saxophonist Steve Grossman that expanded to encompass Keith Jarrett on electronic organ by June 1970) were recorded at these performances: Live at the Fillmore East, March 7, 1970 (March 1970), Black Beauty (April 1970), and Live at the Fillmore East (June 1970).
    By the time In a Silent Way had been recorded on February 18, 1969, Davis had augmented his quintet with additional players.
    More Details Hide Details At various times Hancock or Joe Zawinul were brought in to join Corea on electric keyboards, and guitarist John McLaughlin made the first of his many appearances with Davis. By this point, Shorter was also doubling on soprano saxophone. After recording this album, Williams left to form his group Lifetime and was replaced by Jack DeJohnette. Six months later, an even larger group of musicians including DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and Bennie Maupin recorded the double LP Bitches Brew, which became Davis' biggest selling album after it reached gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1976 for 500,000 copies sold. This album and In a Silent Way were among the first fusions of jazz and rock that were commercially successful, building on the groundwork laid by Charles Lloyd, Larry Coryell, and others who pioneered a genre that would become known as jazz fusion.
    This period, beginning with Davis' 1969 studio album In a Silent Way and concluding with the 1975 concert recording Agharta, was the most controversial in his career, alienating and challenging many in jazz.
    More Details Hide Details His million-selling 1970 record Bitches Brew helped spark a resurgence in the genre's commercial popularity with jazz fusion as the decade progressed. After a five-year retirement due to poor health, Davis returned to recording new music and performing live in the early 1980s, which found him employing younger musicians and pop music sounds on albums such as The Man with the Horn (1981) and Tutu (1986).
  • 1968
    Age 41
    Davis’ influences included 1960s rock and funk artists such as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament-Funkadelic, many of whom he met through Betty Mabry (later Betty Davis), a young model and songwriter Davis married in September 1968 and divorced a year later.
    More Details Hide Details The musical transition required that Davis and his band adapt to electric instruments in both live performances and the studio.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1963
    Age 36
    Davis, Coleman, Carter and a few other musicians recorded half the tracks for an album in the spring of 1963.
    More Details Hide Details A few weeks later, 17-year-old drummer Tony Williams and pianist Herbie Hancock joined the group, and soon afterward Davis, Coleman, and the new rhythm section recorded the rest of Seven Steps to Heaven. The rhythm players melded together quickly as a section and with the horns. The group's rapid evolution can be traced through the Seven Steps to Heaven album, In Europe (July 1963), My Funny Valentine (February 1964), and Four and More (also February 1964). The quintet played essentially the same repertoire of bebop tunes and standards that earlier Davis bands had played, but they tackled them with increasing structural and rhythmic freedom and, in the case of the up-tempo material, breakneck speed. Coleman left in the spring of 1964, to be replaced by avant-garde saxophonist Sam Rivers, on the suggestion of Tony Williams. Rivers remained in the group only briefly, but was recorded live with the quintet in Japan; this configuration can be heard on Miles in Tokyo! (July 1964).
    In 1963, Davis’ longtime rhythm section of Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb departed.
    More Details Hide Details He quickly got to work putting together a new group, including tenor saxophonist George Coleman and bassist Ron Carter.
  • 1961
    Age 34
    Coltrane then departed to form his classic quartet, although he returned for some of the tracks on Davis’ 1961 album Someday My Prince Will Come.
    More Details Hide Details After Coltrane, Davis tried various saxophonists, including Jimmy Heath, Sonny Stitt, and Hank Mobley. The quintet with Hank Mobley was recorded in the studio and on several live engagements at Carnegie Hall and the Black Hawk jazz club in San Francisco. Stitt's playing with the group is found on a recording made in Olympia, Paris (where Davis and Coltrane had played a few months before) and the Live in Stockholm album.
  • 1960
    Age 33
    Davis persuaded Coltrane to play with the group on one final European tour in the spring of 1960.
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  • 1959
    Age 32
    In August 1959, the Miles Davis Quintet was appearing at the famous Birdland nightclub in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details After finishing a recording for the armed services, Davis took a break outside the club. As he was escorting an attractive blonde woman across the sidewalk to a taxi, Davis was told by a patrolman to "move on." Davis explained that he worked at the nightclub and refused to move. The officer said that he would arrest Davis and grabbed him as Davis protected himself. Witnesses said that the patrolman punched Davis in the stomach with his nightstick without provocation. While two detectives held the crowd back, a third detective approached Davis from behind and beat him about the head. Davis was arrested and taken to jail where he was charged with feloniously assaulting an officer. He was then taken to St. Clary Hospital where he received five stitches for a wound on his head. The following October, he was acquitted of the charge of disorderly conduct and was likewise acquitted the following January of the charge of third-degree assault.
    In March and April 1959, Davis re-entered the studio with his working sextet to record what is widely considered his magnum opus, Kind of Blue.
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  • 1958
    Age 31
    Also in 1958, he married his first wife Frances Taylor.
    More Details Hide Details Their marriage lasted 10 years, despite his persistent domestic violence. Sketches of Spain (1959–1960) featured songs by contemporary Spanish composers Joaquín Rodrigo and Manuel de Falla, as well as Gil Evans originals with a Spanish flavor. Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall (1961) includes Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, along with other compositions recorded in concert with an orchestra under Evans' direction. Sessions with Davis and Evans in 1962 resulted in the album Quiet Nights, a short collection of bossa novas that was released against the wishes of both artists: Evans stated it was only half an album, and blamed the record company; Davis blamed producer Teo Macero, to whom he did not speak for more than two years. This was the last time Evans and Davis made a full album together; despite the professional separation, Davis noted later that "my best friend is Gil Evans."
    In 1958, Davis and Evans were back in the studio to record Porgy and Bess, an arrangement of pieces from George Gershwin's opera of the same name.
    More Details Hide Details The lineup included three members of the sextet: Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. Davis called the album one of his favorites.
    Returning to New York City in 1958, Davis successfully recruited Cannonball Adderley for his standing group.
    More Details Hide Details Coltrane, who in the meantime had freed himself from his drug habits, was available after a highly fruitful experience with Thelonious Monk and was hired back, as was Philly Joe Jones. With the quintet re-formed as a sextet, Davis recorded Milestones, an album anticipating the new directions he was preparing to give to his music. Almost immediately after the recording of Milestones, Davis fired Garland and, shortly afterwards, Jones, again for behavioral problems; he replaced them with Bill Evans—a young white pianist with a strong classical background—and drummer Jimmy Cobb. With this revamped formation, Davis began a year during which the sextet performed and toured extensively and produced a record (1958 Miles, also known as 58 Sessions). Evans had a unique, impressionistic approach to the piano, and his musical ideas had a strong influence on Davis. But after only eight months on the road with the group, he was burned out and left. He was soon replaced by Wynton Kelly, a player who brought to the sextet a swinging, bluesy approach that contrasted with Evans' more delicate playing.
    A performance of Les Ballets Africains from Guinea in 1958 sparked Davis’ interest in modal music.
    More Details Hide Details This music, featuring the kalimba, stayed for long periods of time on a single chord, weaving in and out of consonance and dissonance. It was a very new concept in jazz at the time, then dominated by the chord-change based music of bebop.
  • 1957
    Age 30
    The quintet was disbanded for the first time in 1957, following a series of personal problems that Davis blames on the drug addiction of the other musicians.
    More Details Hide Details Davis played some gigs at the Cafe Bohemia with a short-lived formation that included Sonny Rollins and drummer Art Taylor, and then traveled to France, where he recorded the score to Louis Malle's film Ascenseur pour l'échafaud. With the aid of French session musicians Barney Wilen, Pierre Michelot, and René Urtreger, and expatriate American drummer Kenny Clarke, he recorded the entire soundtrack with an innovative procedure, without relying on written material: starting from sparse indication of the harmony and a general feel of a given piece, the group played by watching the movie on a screen in front of them and improvising.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1956
    Age 29
    Both Davis and Evans were acquainted with the ideas of pianist George Russell regarding modal jazz; Davis from discussions with Russell and others before the Birth of the Cool sessions, and Evans from study with Russell in 1956.
    More Details Hide Details Davis, however, had neglected to inform current pianist Wynton Kelly of Evans' role in the recordings; Kelly subsequently played only on the track "Freddie Freeloader" and was not present at the April dates for the album. "So What" and "All Blues" had been played by the sextet at performances prior to the recording sessions, but for the other three compositions, Davis and Evans prepared skeletal harmonic frameworks that the other musicians saw for the first time on the day of recording, to allow a fresher approach to their improvisations. The resulting album has proven both highly popular and enormously influential. According to the RIAA, Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album of all time, having been certified as quadruple platinum (4 million copies sold). In December 2009, the US House of Representatives voted 409–0 to pass a resolution honoring the album as a national treasure.
    Before leaving Prestige, however, Davis had to fulfill his obligations during two days of recording sessions in 1956.
    More Details Hide Details Prestige released these recordings in the following years as four albums: Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, and Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet. While the recording took place in a studio, each record of this series has the structure and feel of a live performance, with several first takes on each album. The records became almost instant classics and were instrumental in establishing Davis’ quintet as one of the best on the jazz scene.
    The material they recorded was released in 1956 on an album whose title, Birth of the Cool, gave its name to the "cool jazz" movement that developed at the same time and partly shared the musical direction begun by Davis' group.
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  • 1955
    Age 28
    Back in New York City and in better health, in 1955 Davis attended the Newport Jazz Festival, where his performance (and especially his solo on "'Round Midnight") was greatly admired and prompted the critics to hail the "return of Miles Davis".
    More Details Hide Details At the same time, Davis recruited the players for a formation that became known as his "first great quintet": John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. None of these musicians, with the exception of Davis, had received a great deal of exposure before that time; Chambers, in particular, was very young (19 at the time), a Detroit player who had been on the New York City scene for only about a year, working with the bands of Bennie Green, Paul Quinichette, George Wallington, J. J. Johnson, and Kai Winding. Coltrane was little known at the time, in spite of earlier collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic, and Johnny Hodges. Davis hired Coltrane as a replacement for Sonny Rollins, after unsuccessfully trying to recruit alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.
    Davis had an operation to remove polyps from his larynx in October 1955.
    More Details Hide Details Even though he was not supposed to speak at all, he had an argument with somebody and raised his voice. This outburst damaged his vocal cords forever, giving him the characteristic raspy voice that came to be associated with him. "was in February or March 1956 that I had my first throat operation and had to disband the group while recovering. During the course of the conversation I raised my voice to make a point and fucked up my voice. I wasn't even supposed to talk for at least ten days, and here I was not only talking, but talking loudly. After that incident my voice had this whisper that has been with me ever since." The "nocturnal" quality of Davis’ playing and his somber reputation, along with his whispering voice, earned him the lasting moniker of "prince of darkness", adding a patina of mystery to his public persona.
  • 1951
    Age 24
    The most important Prestige recordings of this period (Dig, Blue Haze, Bags' Groove, Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants, and Walkin') originated mostly from recording sessions in 1951 and 1954, after Davis' recovery from his addiction.
    More Details Hide Details Also of importance are his five Blue Note recordings, collected in the Miles Davis Volume 1 album. With these recordings, Davis assumed a central position in what is known as hard bop. In contrast with bebop, hard bop used slower tempos and a less radical approach to harmony and melody, often adopting popular tunes and standards from the American songbook as starting points for improvisation. Hard bop also distanced itself from cool jazz by virtue of a harder beat and by its constant reference to the blues, both in its traditional form and in the form made popular by rhythm and blues. A few critics go as far as to call Walkin the album that created hard bop, but the point is debatable, given the number of musicians who were working along similar lines at the same time (many of whom recorded or played with Davis).
    Between 1951 and 1954, he released many records on Prestige, with several different combos.
    More Details Hide Details While the personnel of the recordings varied, the lineup often featured Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey. Davis was particularly fond of Rollins and tried several times, in the years that preceded his meeting with John Coltrane, to recruit him for a regular group. He never succeeded, however, mostly because Rollins was prone to make himself unavailable for months at a time. In spite of the casual occasions that generated these recordings, their quality is almost always quite high, and they document the evolution of Davis' style and sound. During this time he began using the Harmon mute, held close to the microphone, in a way that became his signature, and his phrasing, especially in ballads, became spacious, melodic, and relaxed. This sound became so characteristic that the use of the Harmon mute by any jazz trumpet player since immediately conjures up Miles Davis.
    In 1951, Davis met Bob Weinstock, the owner of Prestige Records, and signed a contract with the label.
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  • 1950
    Age 23
    Despite all the personal turmoil, the 1950–54 period proved to be a fruitful one for Davis artistically.
    More Details Hide Details He made quite a number of recordings and had several collaborations with other important musicians. He got to know the music of Chicago pianist Ahmad Jamal, whose elegant approach and use of space influenced him deeply. He also definitively severed his stylistic ties with bebop.
  • 1949
    Age 22
    At the end of 1949, he went on tour in Paris with a group including Tadd Dameron, Kenny Clarke (who remained in Europe after the tour), and James Moody.
    More Details Hide Details Davis was fascinated by Paris and its cultural environment, where black jazz musicians, and African Americans in general, often felt better respected than they did in America. While in Paris, Davis began a relationship with French actress and singer Juliette Gréco. Although many of his new and old friends (Davis, in his autobiography, mentions Clarke) tried to persuade him to stay in France, Davis decided to return to New York City. Back in the US, he began to feel deeply depressed. He attributed the depression to his separation from Gréco, his feeling under-appreciated by the critics (who hailed his former collaborators as leaders of the cool jazz movement)—and to the unraveling of his liaison with a former St. Louis schoolmate who lived with him in New York City, with whom he had two children. Davis blamed these factors for the heroin habit that deeply affected him for the next four years. During this period, Davis supported his habit partly with his music and partly by living the life of a hustler. By 1953, his drug addiction began to impair his playing ability. Heroin had killed some of his friends (Navarro and Freddie Webster). He had been arrested for drug possession while on tour in Los Angeles, and his drug habit became public in a Down Beat interview of Cab Calloway.
    The nonet was active until the end of 1949, along the way undergoing several changes in personnel: Roach and Davis were constantly featured, along with Mulligan, tuba player Bill Barber, and alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, who had been preferred to Sonny Stitt (whose playing was considered too bop-oriented).
    More Details Hide Details Over the months, John Lewis alternated with Al Haig on piano, Mike Zwerin with Kai Winding on trombone (Johnson was touring at the time), Junior Collins with Sandy Siegelstein and Gunther Schuller on French horn, and Al McKibbon with Joe Shulman on bass. Singer Kenny Hagood was added for one track during the recording. The presence of white musicians in the group angered some black jazz players, many of whom were unemployed at the time, but Davis rebuffed their criticisms. A contract with Capitol Records granted the nonet several recording sessions between January 1949 and April 1950.
  • 1948
    Age 21
    The nonet debuted in the summer of 1948, with a two-week engagement at the Royal Roost.
    More Details Hide Details The sign announcing the performance gave a surprising prominence to the role of the arrangers: "Miles Davis Nonet. Arrangements by Gil Evans, John Lewis and Gerry Mulligan." It was, in fact, so unusual that Davis had to persuade the Roost's manager, Ralph Watkins, to word the sign this way. He prevailed only with the help of Monte Kay, the club's artistic director.
    In 1948 Davis grew close to the Canadian composer and arranger Gil Evans.
    More Details Hide Details Evans' basement apartment had become the meeting place for several young musicians and composers such as Davis, Roach, pianist John Lewis, and baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan who were unhappy with the increasingly virtuoso instrumental techniques that dominated the bebop scene. Evans had been the arranger for the Claude Thornhill orchestra, and it was the sound of this group, as well as Duke Ellington's example, that suggested the creation of an unusual line-up: a nonet including a French horn and a tuba (this accounts for the "tuba band" moniker that became associated with the combo). Davis took an active role, so much so that it soon became "his project". The objective was to achieve a sound similar to the human voice, through carefully arranged compositions and by emphasizing a relaxed, melodic approach to the improvisations.
    By December 1948, Davis' claims that he was not being paid began to strain the relationship even further.
    More Details Hide Details Davis finally left the group following a confrontation with Parker at the Royal Roost. For Davis, his departure from Parker's group marked the beginning of a period when he worked mainly as a freelancer and sideman in some of the most important combos on the New York City jazz scene.
    In 1948, Parker returned to New York, and Davis rejoined his group.
    More Details Hide Details The relationships within the quintet were growing tense however. Parker was behaving erratically due to his well-known drug addiction. Davis and Roach caused friction in the group by objecting to having Duke Jordan as a pianist (they would have preferred Bud Powell).
  • 1947
    Age 20
    In these early years, recording sessions where Davis was the leader were the exception rather than the rule; his next date as leader would not come until 1947.
    More Details Hide Details Around 1945, Dizzy Gillespie parted ways with Parker, and Davis was hired as Gillespie's replacement in his quintet, which also featured Max Roach on drums, Al Haig (replaced later by Charles Thompson and Duke Jordan) on piano, and Curley Russell (later replaced by Tommy Potter and Leonard Gaskin) on bass. With Parker's quintet, Davis went into the studio several times, already showing hints of the style he would become known for. On an oft-quoted take of Parker's signature song, "Now's the Time", Davis takes a melodic solo, whose unbop-like quality anticipates the "cool jazz" period that followed. The Parker quintet also toured widely. During a stop in Los Angeles, Parker had a nervous breakdown that landed him in the Camarillo State Mental Hospital for several months, and Davis found himself stranded. He roomed and collaborated for some time with bassist Charles Mingus, before getting a job on Billy Eckstine's California tour, which eventually brought him back to New York.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1946
    Age 19
    He finally got the chance to record as a leader in 1946, with an occasional group called the Miles Davis Sextet plus Earl Coleman and Ann Hathaway—one of the rare occasions when Davis, by then a member of the groundbreaking Charlie Parker Quintet, can be heard accompanying singers.
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  • 1945
    Age 18
    In 1945, he entered a recording studio for the first time, as a member of Herbie Fields's group.
    More Details Hide Details This was the first of many recordings Davis contributed to in this period, mostly as a sideman.
  • 1944
    Age 17
    In the fall of 1944, following graduation from high school, Davis moved to New York City to study at the Juilliard School of Music.
    More Details Hide Details Upon arriving in New York City, he spent most of his first weeks in town trying to get in contact with Charlie Parker, despite being advised against doing so by several people he met during his quest, including saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. Finally locating his idol, Davis became one of the cadre of musicians who held nightly jam sessions at two of Harlem's nightclubs, Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's. The group included many of the future leaders of the bebop revolution: young players such as Fats Navarro, Freddie Webster, and J. J. Johnson. Established musicians including Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke were also regular participants. Davis dropped out of Juilliard after asking permission from his father. In his autobiography, Davis criticized the Juilliard classes for centering too much on the classical European and "white" repertoire. He also acknowledged however that, in addition to greatly improving his trumpet playing technique, Juilliard helped give him a grounding in music theory that would prove valuable in later years.
    He graduated from East St. Louis Lincoln High School in 1944.
    More Details Hide Details In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band visited East St. Louis. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were members of the band; they invited Davis to play third trumpet for a couple of weeks because their regular member, Buddy Anderson, was ill. Even after this experience, once Eckstine's band left town, Davis' parents were still keen for him to continue formal academic studies.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1926
    Born
    Davis was born on May 26, 1926, to an affluent African-American family in Alton, Illinois.
    More Details Hide Details His father, Miles Dewey Davis, Jr., was a dentist. In 1927, the family moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. They also owned a substantial ranch near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where Davis' father and grandfather were from. It was both in East St. Louis and near Pine Bluff that young Davis developed his earliest appreciation for music listening to the gospel music of the black church. Davis' mother, Cleota Mae Davis (née Henry), wanted her son to learn the piano; she was a capable blues pianist but did not tell Miles. His musical studies began at 13, when his father gave him a trumpet and arranged lessons with local musician Elwood Buchanan. Davis later suggested that his father's instrument choice was made largely to irk his wife, who disliked the trumpet's sound. Against the fashion of the time, Buchanan stressed the importance of playing without vibrato; he was reported to have slapped Davis' knuckles every time he started using heavy vibrato. Davis would carry his clear signature tone throughout his career. He once remarked on its importance to him, saying, "I prefer a round sound with no attitude in it, like a round voice with not too much tremolo and not too much bass. Just right in the middle. If I can’t get that sound I can’t play anything." Clark Terry was another important early influence.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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