Today is the birthday of the late jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, who almost singlehandedly shaped, changed, influenced, and pioneered much of that genre with expansive and highly memorable musical works that were released (mainly on Columbia Records) during the mid-20th century.
Davis, born May 26, 1926, remains one of the great musicians of the jazz age and American music age. A true original in every sense of the term, Davis wasn’t the first to excel at the trumpet — Louis Armstrong paved the cobblestoned musical roads that hundreds and hundreds of trumpeters in his wake tread upon after him, and people like Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry also drafted the blueprints at the jazz architects table — but Davis took all that came before him and he molded and shaped it into a sound that stemmed from him and created scores of albums that challenged basic jazz tenets and set the world on its ear. He (like contemporaries Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and a slight few others) broke it through to the mainstream, and then once the mainstream listened, he socked it in its collective face with an absolutely dazzling array of sounds and musicians who played with him, churning out records at a breathless clip, all with a standard that ran as high as stars in the galaxy. His playing seemed to also rest on that level as well, he almost played hovering over the stage he tread upon, the music seemed to lift one out of the their physical being, it’s raw urgency and soulful complexity even was evident in the most heartfelt soft ballads he manifested, and it could be downright forcefully intimidating and ferocious when he played with the fervor and intensity when he stepped the jazz up a few notches.
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