HISTORY CHALLENGE
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MILES DAVIS

JAZZ GREAT (1926-1991)

The Prince of Darkness was born in Alton, Illinois May 25, 1926.  He grew up in East St. Louis and began playing the trumpet at the age of 13.  Two years later he was already playing professionally.  In September of 1944, Miles Davis moved to New York, supposedly to study at the Institute of Musical Art, but the real reason was to be near his idol, Charlie Parker.  Between 1945-1948, he made live appearances with Parker, as well played on recordings.  At the same time, Davis played in other bands, including tours with Benny Carter and Billy Eckstine.  In 1948, he began to lead his own bop groups and began his lengthy collaboration with arranger Gil Evans.  Together they made a lot of recordings for Capitol Records which were later re-released as "Birth of the Cool." Although he continued to record with famous bop musicians, including Parker, Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins, he didn't work much in clubs or with high profile accompanists until 1954. 

In 1955, Miles Davis had a jazz breakthrough.  He performed informal at the Newport Jazz Festival and his sensational improvisations brought him widespread publicity for the first time.  He also established a quintet (which lasted from 1955-57) mad up of Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones and John Coletrane, who was replaced by Sonny Rollins in 1956.  He was so in demand at this point that in 1957, Miles wrote and recorded music in Paris for Louis Malle's film "Ascenseur pour l'echafaud."   For the next 5 yeas, Davis drew the rhythm sections of his various quintets and sextets from a small talent pool; pianists Red Garland, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly; drummers Philly Joe Jones and Jimmy Cobb; and bassist Paul Chambers.  

 

Revised: July 18, 2013.