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Miles Davis

AKA: Miles Davies

About Miles Davis

Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991), known as Miles Davis, was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, together with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, third stream, modal jazz, post-bop and jazz fusion.

In 1945, Miles Davis elected, with his father’s permission, to drop out of Juilliard and become a full-time jazz musician. A member of the Charlie Parker Quintet at the time, Davis made his first recording as a bandleader in 1946 with the Miles Davis Sextet. Between 1945 and 1948, Davis and Parker recorded continuously. It was during this period that Davis worked on developing the improvisational style that defined his trumpet playing.

In the early 1950s, Davis became addicted to heroin. While he was still able to record, it was a difficult period for the musician and his performances were haphazard. Davis overcame his addiction in 1954, around the same time that his performance of “‘Round Midnight” at the Newport Jazz Festival earned him a recording contract with Columbia Records. There, he also created a permanent band, comprised of John Coltrane, Paul Chambers and Red Garland.

The development of jazz fusion was influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, reflecting the “fusion” of jazz and rock. The album Bitches Brew, recorded a few weeks after the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, set the stage for Honoring his body of work, in 1990, Miles Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1991, he played with Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The two performed a retrospective of Davis’s early work, some of which he had not played in public for more than 20 years. jazz fusion movement to follow. Bitches Brew soon became a best-selling album. As a result, Davis was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine—becoming the first jazz artist to be so recognized. For his traditional fans, this change of style was not welcome, but it exemplifies Davis’s ability to experiment and push the limits of his own music style.

In 1975, Davis was once again drawn into drug abuse, becoming addicted to alcohol and cocaine, and subsequently taking a five-year hiatus from his career. In 1979, he met Cicely Tyson, an American actress, who helped him overcome his cocaine addiction. He and Tyson married in 1981. Honoring his body of work, in 1990, Miles Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1991, he played with Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The two performed a retrospective of Davis’s early work, some of which he had not played in public for more than 20 years.Later that same year, on September 28, 1991, Davis succumbed to pneumonia and respiratory failure, dying at the age of 65. Fittingly, his recording with Quincy Jones would bring Miles Davis his final Grammy, awarded posthumously in 1993. The honor was just another testament to the musician’s profound and lasting influence on jazz.