Miles Davis – WUSF All Night Jazz Focus Artist of the Week

Miles Davis at Strasbourg photo by Jean Fortunet

This week on All Night Jazz, will focus on one of the biggest names in jazz: trumpeter Miles Davis. Born May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois,  Davis was at the forefront of jazz for nearly his entire career and redefined the genre on multiple occasions. The son of a successful dentist, Davis migrated to New York in the 1940s, ostensibly to study music at Julliard. But he soon found himself in late night haunts playing and recording with bebop pioneer Charlie “Yardbird” Parker and other jazz luminaries. In 1949 Davis, tired of the frenetic pace of bebop, went into the studio with arrangers Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan to create something which was the antithesis of bop which later became known as the “Birth of the Cool.” Davis dominated the jazz world throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s with two great quintets and a number of gorgeously arranged recordings with Gil Evans including “Porgy and Bess” and “Sketches of Spain.” Additionally, in 1959, a seminal year for the idiom, Davis dropped his legendary “Kind of Blue” album featuring John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. The album is still the best selling jazz album of all time. During the ‘60s, Davis continued to reinvent jazz moving to a more modern approach and then in the late ‘60s merged jazz with rock in his electric period spawning several new jazz stars like Chick Corea, along the way. In 1976 Davis retired but in 1981, after a 5 year hiatus, Davis reemerged with a string of successful jazz rock recordings. He continued recording up until his passing in 1991. We’ll hear the diverse sounds of Miles Davis all week long on All Night Jazz.