Perspectives in American Jazz
December 10, 2009
Miles Davis: The Last Pioneer in American Jazz
Miles Davis represents the pinnacle of modern American Jazz. He was one of the foremost pioneers in the inventions of cool jazz, hard bop, free jazz, fusion and techno. He was, arguably one of the most influential figures in music, pushing the boundaries of what was commonly known as jazz into new directions that most people thought was impossible. Davis was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois to Dr. Miles Henry Davis, a successful dentist, and Cleota Mae Davis. Davis’ interest in music was sparked at the age of 13 when his father bought him a trumpet, and arranged lessons with accomplished local musician Elwood Buchanan. Oddly enough, Buchanan discouraged Davis from using vibrato in his music, which was a characteristic that Davis carried throughout the entirety of his career. Interestingly, his mother, Cleota Mae Davis, played blues piano but kept this facts hidden from her son. Because of his proficiency with the trumpet, he was accepted into the Julliard School of Music to study classical music. Davis quickly realized that the classical form was not for him, and desired a more non-traditional approach. Davis made the decision to drop out of the Julliard School because they were not accepting of his non-traditional approach. Davis focused on imperfect melodies in order to distract the users away from the composition of the music, and to concentrate more on the deeply rooted meanings in the music. Davis stated in an interview, “It's [music] always been a gift with me, hearing music the way I do. I don't know where it comes from, it's just there and I don't question it,” (Miles Davis Properties). After Davis dropped out of Julliard, he got to experience the greatest privilege that any musician of the time could hope for. He received the chance to play with the band of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Davis’ performance...