Biography of Miles Davis

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  • Topic: Miles Davis, Jazz, John Coltrane
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  • Published : March 17, 2008
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History of Jazz
Miles Davis

Born on May 26, 1926, Miles Davis is considered to be one of the most influential jazz musicians in history. Being a trumpeter, keyboardist, composer, and band-leader, Miles is responsible for the popularization of many styles of jazz throughout his long and prolific career.

Miles Dewey Davis was born into a well-to-do family in the town of Alton, Illinois. The family owned a large portion of a farm where Miles learned to ride horses as a young boy. In 1927 the family moved to East St. Louis. Miles' mother, Cleota Henry, encouraged him to play the violin while his father bought him a trumpet when he turned thirteen and arranged his first lesson with trumpeter Elwood Buchanan. One of the main reasons Miles' father chose the trumpet is due to the fact Cleota was annoyed by its sound. His teacher stressed a style of play that did not involve vibrato. Miles carried this style throughout his entire career. Buchanan would rap Miles' knuckles with a ruler every time he used vibrato. Miles had numerous offers from bands when in high school but his mother insisted he finish school before he continued with his music career. In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band came to St. Louis. Prominent jazz figures during the time including Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were part of the band. Due to one of the band members being ill, Miles took on the position of third trumpet for a couple weeks. After the band resumed its normal condition, Miles was left behind to finish his academic studies as requested by his parents.

In 1944, Miles moved to New York City with the intention of attending Julliard School of Music. Instead of keeping with his studies, Miles was more concerned with his career as a musician in a band. Miles made some of his first recordings in 1945 and also joined Charlie Parker's quintet. Though Miles was not as developed during this time, his style was already easily recognizable and distinguished. In 1949, Miles had the opportunity...
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