ABOUT MILES DAVIS (1926-1991)
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Davis convinced his parents to send him to the famous Juilliard School of Music in 1944. Once in New York he quickly connected with the jazz scene, joining the bebop band of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, one of his idols. He was a sideman for such artists as Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstine and Charles Mingus, while his own first album came out in 1951. In 1957 Miles had his first of many collaborations with John Coltrane (‘Trane’ to Miles), and in 1959 he recorded Kind of Blue – still the best-selling jazz album ever.
Kind of Blue and Davis’s other late 50s albums for Columbia Records helped to develop a more mainstream audience for his cool jazz sound. Far from a strict jazz traditionalist, in the 1960s Miles Davis listened to and absorbed rock and soul like the Byrds, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. He loved Jimi Hendrix and even planned to record with him before Hendrix’s tragic 1970 death. Davis’s landmark Bitches’ Brew album of 1970 grew his youth audience enormously, reaching double platinum in the U.S.
Davis continued to record, perform and innovate in the 1960s and early 1970s, absorbing influences from Stockhausen to soul. By 1975, however, a combination of exhaustion, personal demons and drug addiction forced him to take time out. He wouldn’t pick up a musical instrument again in earnest until the early 1980s, which was when the blue-lacquer ‘Moon and Stars’ trumpet was created for him.