Miles Davis

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Miles Dewey Davis (26 May 1926 – 28 September 1991) was a jazz trumpeter, composer and bandleader. As the youngest member of Charlie Parker’s band, he was part of the be-bop revolution that ushered in modern jazz. His collaboration with arranger Gil Evans produced the famous albums Miles Ahead, Sketches of Spain and (after Gershwin) Porgy and Bess. Later, inspired among others by Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, he was the principal pioneer of jazz-rock, also known as fusion, beginning with the albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. His 'going electric' in 1970 outraged some of his older fans, recalling Bob Dylan's similar move a few years earlier.

Three bands from the different stages of Miles's career:

The sextet of the 1950s: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Red Garland, later replaced by Wynton Kelly (piano), Sam Jones, later replaced by Paul Chambers, (bass), Philly Joe Jones, later replaced by Jimmy Cobb (drums). On Kind of Blue, jazz's most popular album, Kelly is replaced on most tracks by Bill Evans.

The quintet of the 1960s: Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (drums). Williams joined at the age of 17, and his fluid drumming style is one of the characteristics of this group, which lasted until the end of the sixties, when Chick Corea and Englishman Dave Holland replaced Hancock and Carter.

Electric Miles followed, as captured on the film of his appearance at the Isle of Wight festival: Gary Bartz (alto and tenor saxes), Keith Jarrett (organ), Chick Corea (electric piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), and Airto Moreira, a Brazilian who plays various percussion instruments.

Some of the other musicians who passed through Miles's bands were saxophonists Gerry Mulligan, Sam Rivers, George Coleman, Steve Grossman, Dave Liebman, Carlos Garnett and Sonny Fortune; pianists Victor Feldman and Joe Zawinul; organist Larry Young; guitarists John McLaughlin and Pete Cosey; bassist Foley; drummers Frank Butler and Billy Cobham; and percussionist James Mtume.

Away from music, Miles Davis's favourite hobby was boxing, and it has been suggested that his late trumpet style, with its volleys of notes interspersed by silence, was influenced by it.