Bandleader and composer, Miles Davis’ music is regarded as the most important in the development of improvisational techniques.
Born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois, Miles Dewey Davis belonged to a middle class family. He grew up playing in his high school band as well as in several local R&B groups.
“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is afterwards.”– Miles Davis
Noticing his love and talent for music, Davis’ father sent him to Juliard to study music. He, however, did not spend much time there. Instead he dropped out to play with Charlie Parker’s quintet from 1946 to 1948.
Davis continued to play with different musicians throughout the 1940’s. The 1950’s, however, proved to be a trying time in his life. Addicted to heroine, Davis became a disappointing performer.
Fortunately, he sought treatment for his addiction, and by the middle of the decade he began playing again. Davis formed his first quintet, comprised of himself, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones. This group became very popular and recorded several essential albums such as Cookin’, Steamin’, Workin’, and Relaxin’.
Davis ended the decade by recording one of the best known jazz albums of all time, Kind of Blue.
In the 1970’s, Davis realized that rock was quickly replacing jazz as the music of choice. In order to maintain her career, Davis began to perform with an electronic band. From this was created Bitches Brew, the best-selling jazz album of all time.
Davis’ music continued to evolve and inspire until his death on September 28, 1991.