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Describe the Career of Miles Davis in the 1960s and Later

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Miles Davis, in full Miles Dewey Davis III, American jazz musician, a great trumpeter who as a bandleader and composer was one of the major influences on the art from the late 1940s. Davis grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, where his father was a prosperous dental surgeon

(In later years he often spoke of his comfortable upbringing, sometimes to rebuke critics who assumed that a background of poverty and suffering was common to all great jazz artists.) He began studying trumpet in his early teens; fortuitously, in light of his later stylistic development, his first teacher advised him to play without vibrato.

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Miles Davis, the trumpeter and composer whose haunting tone and ever-changing style made him an elusive touchstone of jazz for four decades, died yesterday at St. John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 65 years old. He died of pneumonia, respiratory failure and a stroke, his doctor, Jeff Harris, said in a statement released by the hospital. A spokeswoman for the hospital, Pat Kirk, said yesterday that Mr. Davis had been a patient there for several weeks. Mr. Davis's unmistakable, voicelike, nearly vibratoless tone -- at times distant and melancholy, at others assertive yet luminous -- has been imitated around the world.His solos, whether ruminating on a whispered ballad melody or jabbing against a beat, have been models for generations of jazz musicians. Other trumpeters play faster and higher, but more than in any technical feats Mr. Davis's influence lay in his phrasing and sense of space. "I always listen to what I can leave out," he would say. Equally important, Mr. Davis never settled into one style; every few years he created a new lineup and format for his groups. Each phase brought denunciations from critics; each, except for the most recent one, has set off repercussions throughout modern jazz

"I have to change," he once said. "It's like a curse."

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Keyboardist Chick Corea points out one interesting, likely unintended consequence of moving to electronic instruments in a live setting. For a brief time, both he and Keith Jarrett were playing electric keyboards in Davis’s live band (Richardson, Mark, 2016). As many performing musicians can relate, the sound on stage could leave much to be desired. Corea recalls “…when Keith and I played live, there really was no communication. Miles put either keyboard on each end of the stage and I could never hear what Keith was playing and I doubt Keith ever heard a note I was playing. So it was hard to really play something together.” This gives rise to two musicians playing blindly with or against one another and inadvertently creating a new way of making music, as a sort of blind collaboration. With Davis’ preferred working method of keeping his musicians in the dark and using increasingly less structured compositions, he may have even desired this effect

It certainly provides an example of how electricity was and still is further shaping music, even suggesting a new way of playing for those who would view it that way and not simply as a shortcoming. Musicians have to react to what they are limited to hearing on stage, which is often an odd mix that does not sound the same as what is coming from the main P.A. system, and they must make musical decisions on how to act accordingly (Smith, Christopher, 1995). The idea of playing blindly can then be brought into the studio, and indeed was used by bassists Jaco Pastorius on “Crisis,” the opening track of his 1981 album Word of Mouth.

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Obviously, honoring his body of work, in 1990, Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1991, he played with Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival

The two performed a retrospective of Davis's early work, some of which he had not played in public for more than 20 years. Later that same year, on September 28, 1991, Davis succumbed to pneumonia and respiratory failure, dying at the age of 65. Fittingly, his recording with Jones would bring Davis his final Grammy, awarded posthumously in 1993. The honor was just another testament to the musician's profound and lasting influence on jazz.

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Mumma, Gordon. "Recording." The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 18, 2016.

Richardson, Mark. "Brian Eno." Pitchfork, November 1, 2010, accessed December 3, 2016. http://pitchfork.com/features/interview/7875-brian-eno/.

Smith, Christopher. “A Sense of the Possible: Miles Davis and the Semiotics of Improvised Performance.” The Drama Review Vol. 39, No. 3 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 41-55.

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