All About Miles Davis

"It's always been a gift with me, hearing music the way I do. I don't know where it comes from, it's just there and I don't question it."
- Miles Davis

Last Updated: 2005-03-10
Miles Davis
Miles Davis was a jazz trumpeter and composer. He was born on May 25, 1926 in Alton, Illionios. He was first heard playing songs with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker (bebop). And later went solo. After Miles toured Paris, he came back on drugs and pimped. He went to his fathers house and locked himself in his room for a week without water or food to get him straight. Miles' first major album was called "Birth of the Cool" which was recorded in two years (1949 - 1950). In this album, he shows the style of jazz in which he would later switch to. It was called cool jazz. It was more relaxing than bebop, which was usually very fast and had a lot of notes. Later, in 1954, he released another album, this time back on bebop. It featured a personal with familiar faces in bebop at the time, such as JJ Johnson, Percy Heath, Lucky Thompson, and Kenny Clarke. Two other artists were featured on the album, Horace Silver on piano, and David Schildkraut on alto saxophone. The album was called "Walkin'".

In about 1956, Miles started his first and most popular quintet. It featured John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The quintet released many albums, but four of them were the albums that made them famous. "Cookin'", "Relaxin'", "Workin'", and "Steamin'" were later called "The Original Miles Davis Quintet Series". In some of these albums, Miles plays songs that he composed himself and bebop artists composed. He also plays songs from movies, and just famous songs at the time. But compared to the other albums of '56, these albums weren't famous at all. In '56, these albums were competing with Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners", Sonny Rollins' "Saxophone Colossus" and Max Roach's "Plus Four". So he released an album that would keep him famous for a while, called "Round About Midnight". The main song on the record, "Round Midnight", was Thelonious Monk's most famous piece of work. And this time, Miles played in his typical "cool" mood. But 1956 wasn't the only year of the '50s where the three stars of jazz were Miles, Thelonious, and Sonny. There were other releases by the three in the '50s. Thelonious' "Misterioso" was a hit, and Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite" sold many copies. Miles had a hit himself, called "Miles Ahead". But in 1959, the most important year in jazz history, Miles released the supreme album. It was in cool jazz form as well. It was called "Kind of Blue". It featured John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley as saxophone players, and the rhythm section was played by Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. "Kind of Blue" later sold the most copies in jazz history. Miles was without a question Columbia's most essential artist and recorded about 75 albums with them.

Throughout the '60s, Miles was still making very famous cool jazz and hard bop records and formed a new quintet with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, and Herbie Hancock. But in 1969, he released his most popular fusion album, "In a Silent Way". It was only two songs. And after that release, Miles was actually considered rock. He played both acoustic and electric trumpet. He made other fusion albums, such as "Bitches Brew", "Live at Filmore", and "Miles and Quincy Live at the Montreux".

Miles was a major influence to both rock and rap. But on September 28, 1991 in Santa Monica, California, Miles died. Although he no longer lives, people still listen to him. Miles is now called one of the greatest and most influential jazz artists of all time.
Miles Davis holding trumpet

Miles Davis in red shirt

The Miles Davis Story DVD cover
The 20 Greatest Miles Davis Albums:
1. Kind of Blue - 1959
1. So What
2. Freddie Freeloader
3. Blue In Green
4. All Blues
5. Flamenco Sketches

2. In a Silent Way - 1969
1. Shhh / Peaceful
2. In A Silent Way / It's About That Time / In A Silent Way

3. Birth of the Cool - 1949
1. Move
2. Jeru
3. Moon Dreams
4. Venus De Milo
5. Budo
6. Deception
7. Godchild
8. Boplicity
9. Rocker
10. Israel
11. Rouge
12. Darn That Dream

4. My Funny Valentine: Miles Davis In Concert [Live] - 1964
1. My Funny Valentine
2. All Of You
3. Stella By Starlight
4. All Blues
5. I Thought About You

5. Milestones - 1958
1. Dr. Jackle
2. Sid's Ahead
3. Two Bass Hit
4. Milestones
5. Billy Boy
6. Straight, No Chaser

6. Miles Ahead - 1957
1. Springsville
2. Maids Of Cadiz, The
3. Duke, The
4. My Ship
5. Miles Ahead
6. Blues For Pablo
7. New Rhumba
8. Meaning Of The Blues, The (I)
9. Lament (II)
10. I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone But You)

7. Bitches Brew - 1969
1. Pharaoh's Dance
2. Bitches Brew
1. mSpanish Key
2. John McLaughlin
3. Miles Runs The Voodoo Down
4. Sanctuary

8. Sketches of Spain - 1960
1. Concierto De Aranjuez
2. Will O' The Wisp
3. Pan Piper, The
4. Saeta
5. Solea

9. Miles and Monk at Newport [Live] - 1958
1. Ah-Leu-Cha
2. Straight No Chaser
3. Fran Dance
4. Two Bass Hit
5. Bye bye Blackbird
6. The Theme

10. In Person at the Blackhawk Vol. 1 [Live] - 1961
1. Walkin'
2. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. All of You
4. No Blues
5. Bye Bye/The Theme
6. Love, I've Found You

11. Live at Fillmore (It's About that Time) [Live] - 1970
1. Directions
2. Spanish Key
3. Masqualero
4. It's About That Time/The Theme
5. Directions
6. Miles Runs the Voodoo Down
7. Bitches Brew
8. Spanish Key
9. It's About That Time/Willie Nelson

12. Walkin' - 1954
1. Walkin'
2. Blue 'N' Boogie
3. Solar
4. You Don't Know What Love Is
5. Love Me Or Leave Me

13. Round About Midnight - 1956
1. Round Midnight
2. Ah-Leu-Cha
3. All Of You
4. Bye Bye Blackbird
5. Tadd's Delight
6. Dear Old Stockholm
7. Two Bass Hit
8. Little Melonae
9. Budo
10. Sweet Sue, Just You

14. Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - 1956
1. Surrey With The Fringe On Top
2. Salt Peanuts
3. Something I Dreamed Last Night
4. Diane
5. Well You Needn't
6. When I Fall In Love

15. Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - 1956
1. My Funny Valentine
2. Blues By Five
3. Airegin
4. Tune-Up / When Lights Are Low

16. Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - 1956
1. It Never Entered My Mind
2. Four
3. In Your Own Sweet Way
4. Theme, The - (take 1)
5. Trane's Blues
6. Ahmad's Blues
7. Half Nelson
8. Theme, The - (take 2)

17. Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - 1956
1. If I Were A Bell
2. You're My Everything
3. I Could Write A Book
4. Oleo
5. It Could Happen To You
6. Woody 'N' You

18. Miles and Quincy Live at the Montreux [Live] - 1991
• Introduction By Claude Nobs And Quincy Jones
• Boblicity
• Introduction To Miles Ahead Medley
• Springsville
• Maids Of Cadiz
• The Duke
• My Ship
• Miles Ahead
• Blues For Pablo
• Introduction To Porgy And Bess Medley
• Gone
• Gone, Gone, Gone
• Summertime
• Here Come De Honey Man
• The Pan Piper
• Solea

19. Someday My Prince Will Come - 1961
1. Someday My Prince Will Come
2. Old Folks
3. Pfrancing
4. Drad-Dog
5. Teo
6. I Thought About You

20. Quiet Nights - 1963
1. Song #2
2. Once Upon A Summertime
3. Aos Pes Da Cruz
4. Song No. 1
5. Wait 'Till You See Her
6. Corcovado
7. Summer Night
Kind of Blue album cover
In a Silent Way album cover
Birth of the Cool album cover
My Funny Valentine album cover
Milestones album cover
Miles Ahead album cover
Bitches Brew album cover
Sketches of Spain album cover
Miles and Monk at Newport album cover
In Person at the Blackhawk Volume one album cover
Live at Fillmore album cover
Walkin' album cover
Round About Midnight album cover
Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet album cover
Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet album cover
Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet album cover
Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet album cover
Miles and Quincy Live at the Montreux album cover
Someday My Prince Will Come album cover
Quiet Nights album cover
The 10 Greatest Miles Davis Songs:
1. So What (From Kind of Blue)
2. All Blues (From Kind of Blue)
3. Blue in Green (From Kind of Blue)
4. My Funny Valentine (From My Funny Valentine [Live])
5. Freddie Freeloader (From Kind of Blue)
6. Bitches Brew (From Bitches Brew)
7. I Love You, Porgy (From Porgy and Bess)
8. Boplicity (From Birth of the Cool)
9. In a Silent Way (From In a Silent Way)
10. Donna Lee (From Donna Lee)
Quotes by Miles Davis

"Do not fear mistakes, there are none."

"A legend is an old man with a cane who is remembered
  for what he used to do. I'm still doing it."

"I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning...
  Every day I find something creative to do with my life."

"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself"

"I never thought that the music called "jazz" was ever meant to reach just a small group
of people, or become a museum thing locked under glass like all other dead things that
were once considered artistic."

"I know what I've done for music, but don't call me a legend. Just call me Miles Davis."

Quotes on Miles Davis

"...Miles himself didn't start providing a direction [for jazz] until 1954 or 1955.
  His own direction."
  - Wynton Marsalis
PLACEMENT ON DDD LISTS (as of 2/2005):
Greatest Jazz Trumpeters - #2
Greatest Jazz Artists - #3
Greatest Jazz Albums - #1, #13, #21, #38, #52, #55, #112
Greatest Hard Bop Jazz Artists (Trumpet) - #3
Top 10 Songs by 20 Greatest Jazz Artists - #3
Greatest Jazz Instrumentals - #7, #16, #24
Greatest Jazz Ballads - #3, #19, #25, #28, #57, #60, #64, #81, #99
Greatest Jazz Ballads Compilation Albums (On Ballads Page) - #2
Greatest 'Live' Jazz Albums - #6, #13, #17, #29, #36, #43, #92

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