Miles Davis

Posted by webmaster | September 26, 2013 | Category: Jazz | Comments: 0

Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.

Miles Davis

 

Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) 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.

Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Davis was noted as “one of the key figures in the history of jazz”.On October 7, 2008, his 1959 album Kind of Blue received its fourth platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of at least four million copies in the United States. On December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic

Davis’s influences included 1960s acid rock and funk artists such as Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, and Jimi Hendrix, 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. The musical transition required that Davis and his band adapt to electric instruments in both live performances and the studio. By the time In a Silent Way had been recorded in February 1969, Davis had augmented his quintet with additional players. At various times Hancock or Joe Zawinul was 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 Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and Bennie Maupin, recorded the double LP Bitches Brew, which became a huge seller, reaching gold status by 1976. 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-rock fusion. During this period, Davis toured with Shorter, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette. The group’s repertoire included material from Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way, and the 1960s quintet albums, along with an occasional standard.

By 1979, Davis had rekindled his relationship with actress Cicely Tyson. With Tyson, Davis would overcome his cocaine addiction and regain his enthusiasm for music. As he had not played trumpet for the better part of three years, regaining his famed embouchure proved particularly arduous. While recording The Man with the Horn (sessions were spread sporadically over 1979–1981), Davis played mostly wahwah with a younger, larger band.

Miles Davis at North Sea Jazz Festival in 1991

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’s most regular collaborators throughout the decade. He married Tyson in 1981; they would divorce in 1988. 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.

By late 1982, Davis’s band included French percussionist Mino Cinelu and guitarist John Scofield, with whom he worked closely on the album Star People. 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. 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

Early life (1926–44)

Miles Dewey Davis was born on May 26, 1926, to an affluent African American family in Alton, Illinois. His father, Miles Henry Davis, was a dentist. In 1927 the family moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. They also owned a substantial ranch in northern Arkansas, where Davis learned to ride horses as a boy.

Davis’ mother, Cleota Mae (Henry) Davis, wanted her son to learn the piano; she was a capable blues pianist but kept this fact hidden from her son. 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.

By age 16, Davis was a member of the music society and playing professionally when not at school. At 17, he spent a year playing in Eddie Randle’s band, the Blue Devils. During this time, Sonny Stitt tried to persuade him to join the Tiny Bradshaw band, then passing through town, but Davis’ mother insisted that he finish his final year of high school. He graduated from East St. Louis Lincoln High School in 1944.

In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band visited East St. Louis. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were members of the band, and Davis was brought in on third trumpet for a couple of weeks because the regular player, Buddy Anderson, was out sick. Even after this experience, once Eckstine’s band left town, Davis’ parents were still keen for him to continue formal academic studies.

Bebop years (1944–48)

In the fall of 1944, following graduation from high school, Davis moved to New York City to study at the Juilliard School of Music. Upon arriving in New York, 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.Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Max Roach, August 1947Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis, ca. September 1947

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. However, he also acknowledged 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.

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