Miles Davis as the Influence of Jazz

Powerful Essays
Topics: Miles Davis, Jazz
Question 11

Miles Davis was one of the greatest and most important figures in jazz history. Miles Dewey Davis III was a musician, composer, arranger, producer and bandleader all in one. Davis was at the forefront of almost every major development in jazz after World War 2. He was one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the twentieth century along with Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong. His versatility landed him at the forefront of bebop, cool jazz, modal, hard bop and fusion (Kirker, 2005:1). His sound went on to influence many other newer forms of music today such as pop, soul, R&B, funk and rap. As one of the last trumpet players, Davis employed a lyrical, melodic style that was known for its minimalism as well as introspection (Kirker, 2005:1). Davis’s influence also extended as far as his ability to assemble great up-and-coming musicians and nurture their creativity within his many bands. Miles Davis and his music is the epitome of jazz, symbolizing jazz as innovative, cool, complex and unpredictable (Kirker, 2005:1).
Born in Alton, Illinois and raised in East St. Louis, Davis was given his first trumpet at the tender age of thirteen. By the age of fifteen, he was playing in public with bandleader Eddie Randall and studying under local trumpeter Elwood Buchanan. His teacher advised Davis to develop a straight, vibrato-less tone unlike popular trumpeters of the period like Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge. The playing without vibrato became his clear signature tone throughout his career and a characteristic of the ‘cool’ sound which supplied overtones similar to vibrato (Kirker, 2005:1).
In 1944, Davis was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music. However, he was more interested in locating Charlie Parker who was his idol. Parker introduced him to other musicians and soon they were playing gigs at nightclubs alongside Fats Navarro, Freddie Webster and J.J Johnson who were the future leaders of the bebop revolution. Bop or bebop



Bibliography: Judden, Air. “Miles Davis.” Dudes I Dig. 2010. Tripod. 13 May 2010 < http://airjudden.tripod.com/jazz/milesdavis.html>. Kingman, Daniel. American Music: A Panorama. New York: Schirmer Books, 1990. Kirker, Tim. “Miles Davis.” All About Jazz. 2005. All About Jazz. 10 May 2010 < http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=18568&pg=1>. Merod, J. “The Question Of Miles Davis.” Boundary 2 28(2001):57-103. “Miles Davis Biography.” Miles Davis Official Website. 2010. Sony Music Entertainment. 11 May 2010 < http://www.milesdavis.com/us/biography>. Pareles, Jon. “Miles Davis, Trumpeter, Dies; Jazz Genius, 65, Defined Cool.” The New York Times 29 Sept. 1991:A1 Sales, G. Jazz: America’s Classical Music. New York: De Capo Press, 1992. Scaruffi, Piero. “Miles Davis.” The History Of Jazz Music. 2006. Piero Scaruffi. 10 May 2010 < http://www.scaruffi.com/jazz/davis.html>. Svorinich, V. Electric Miles: A Look At The “In A Silent Way” and “On The Corner Sessions.” Annual Review Of Jazz Studies 11(2000-2001): 91-107.

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