Miles Davis

I could listen to Miles Davis all day.

Passing my waking hours with my iPod looping the three-plus hours of his music through my ears would be a quiet pleasure.

Jazz is an art form capable of spanning the emotional spectrum quickly and the trumpeter from Illinois was adept at eliciting them all.

Davis’ popularity blossomed in 1957 after the release of critically-acclaimed Miles Ahead, the bebop-influenced Birth of the Cool (recorded in 1949-50) and his work on Ascenseur pour l’√©chafaud, setting the French film’s mood with sultry compositions like “Generique” .

The following year, he began experimenting with modal composition and worked it into his take on George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, as well as the studio-made Milestones.

Then, in 1959, Kind of Blue arrived.

Turning aside the complex chords of his past alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker completely in favor of simpler scales, he produced a landmark in the history of recorded music. By unleashing the artist, he turned the genre on its ear.

The sextet on hand at Columbia 30th Street Studio included Davis and other luminaries of the time–Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane–roaming free across countless notes in unbridled improvisation.

With its smooth transition from indignant apathy to wistful romance, this is my favorite album of all time.

What makes it even more remarkable is the fact each of the five original tracks were produced with little in the way of direction or rehearsal. Davis was known to encourage expression and creativity by leaving his fellow musicians practically in the dark about the intended result of a session together.

The melodies are produced mostly by feel.

And that’s why I love it.

It’s all ingenuity, all the time.

Enjoy the opening song, “So What,” below.


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