Influence of Davis Miles in Jazz Music

The era between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s was one of the periods in the history of the music industry that witnessed the consolidation and refining of all Jazz resources and the range of the sources widened (Ferraris, 744) Some of the Jazz productions of this era realized class achievement and age lines, therefore, unifying the whole African community in American and other parts of the world. The young generation could perceive this genre of music as “bad” just as James Brown used the term to define this kind of music.

However, the older black population could develop a perception of the music links to the black community tradition. The history of Jazz entails some complicated mosaic regions, development of styles and the performers. Although it is almost impossible to point out a particular character for the beginning of this kind of music, there are some figures who stood out in the development and growth of Jazz music.

One such prominent figure in the Jazz music development is Miles Davis, a band leader, musical innovator and trumpet player (Gridley, 511). Most scholars, fans and other jazz musicians consider Miles Davis as an influential figure that made the Jazz music grow to its current prestigious status.  Between the year 1949 and his death 1992, Miles Davis played a major role in the African American music. His musical modernisms, performance comportment, as well as public personality, brought many comments, imitation, and criticism that saw the evolution of the jazz music. Furthermore, most famous Jazz musicians who came years later after his death either went through his orchestra or emanated under his coaching. Additionally, all these players have quoted time with Miles Davis played a significant role in developing their musical career. Therefore, this article will focus on the influence of Miles Davis in Jazz music by critically looking at his participation at crucial junctures in the development of Jazz. The article will specifically be focusing on the innovations he made to the styles that influenced the growth, creativity, his significance in developing bop, modal, cool as well as fusion jazz. Moreover, discuss his contributions concerning the critics of fellow musicians as well as historians regarding evolution to rock system (Schuster-Craig, 442).

Miles appeared in the scenes of Jazz music at a New York concert in 1944 at a time when jazz reconstruction was taking off. Miles Davis capacity in the development of Jazz music was centered in his ability to innovate, construct as well as employing improvisational opportunities, picking and merging compositions, other performance considerations, players, and musical styles. One of the most important legacies of Mile Davis left to his Jazz music colleagues was the heightened capability to use and generate symbolic interpretative space. These symbolic explanatory focused on the enactment of the “an experiential possibility of music.” Miles was focusing on producing quality and attentive musical elasticity that would take the performers to a level of co-composing interpreters. A piece of music that would encourage the players to react to the improvisational moment with the same consideration of freedom that he had (Givan, 02).

One of the major achievements of Miles Davis was using ambiguous, nonverbal communication in his music. Therefore, forcing his players to engage with him in musical aspect by understanding what the composer demanded. He became so compelled to employ further the ambiguity of the stylistic device in Jazz music since his players were already familiar with various cueing systems. Miles also needed to make the music livelier and authentic, so he regularly changed the old gestures with new ones (Smith, 41). The experience of indecisiveness and imbalance gave the audience no choice but to make a make a move of artistic imagination if they needed to make sense of the performance. One of the significant development of the Jazz music during this period was a revolution on bop; marked by disgusted of bop by the big bands, racial injustices, and commercialism of music (Natambu, 36). And the restrictive harmonic skeleton of Jazz music which was the standard style at the time. Miles played a significant role in molding the entire jazz music not as the founder but rather as a contributor by working with other prominent musicians such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzie Gillespie.

During this period of his interaction with these players, Miles became knowledgeable of the bop’s arcane writing and style through imitation, constant jamming as well as informal tutorship. In 1948, Miles collaborated with Gil Evans and Claude Thornhill band, who worked with ‘layered harmonic voicings.’  The two musician introduced the French horn and tuba, playing them as melodic. Davis played an influential part in the leadership of the band group by securing a contract with Capitol Records. In 1954 the group released the “Birth of the Cool” which gave birth to the cool sound and gave the direction to the 1950s sound (Cook, 40). Noteworthy the Boplicity album marked the major revolution and change of bop to cool jazz music (Shim, 567). Most the jazz musicians came to support the shift of the musicality of jazz, and they agree that as the tempo could be slowed down, it could still portray some specific bop features. Some of the characteristics of bop music that could be maintained by slowing down the tempo included a light style of drumming, significance of bass in the maintenance of the beat and the prototypical feature of bop.

Paradoxically, Davis having fathered the birth of cool he was among those extremists who turned away from it when he did the recording of ‘Walkin’ in 1954. The 1954 Walkin was a twelve-bar blues whose direction loomed in the opposite direction to the established cool. Walkin was acknowledgeable as the ‘hard bop’ emerging to the scene in an era when most audience especially the whites disdained the cool. Walkin came at a time when the white audience needed something special, and therefore, it became known as the ‘white man’s music.’ Consequently, the music was a welcome to the return to ‘soul music.’ Davis arose to the world of jazz music as a dominant figure influencing most of the styles used in modern jazz music. He worked as a trumpet stylist, as well as leading innovative musicians who shaped the future of jazz music. Besides, he was one of the best-selling soundtrack stars of music who widened the understanding of the audience for authentic jazz. Another significant contribution of Miles was developing a playing style that featured most of his previous works.

He borrowed soft tone that he used in his cool era, while also slackening down the melodious activity of jazz. Davis Miles also used phrasing technique that was fragmented allowing an opportunity to the rhythm section of jazz, setting his style apart through singing a scale-oriented, rather than chord-oriented along notes. He freed himself further by introducing the use of modal scales accompanied with slow moving harmonies by the end of 1958. For instance, he preferred suspending his tunes centered on the early styles, above the harmony to weaving a melody through composite bop or stench harmonies.

Milestones recording is a real revelation of this development and revolution spearheaded by Davis Miles (Gridley, 767). The recording has numerous changes considered by abandoning the use of standard chord and adopting a sequence of scales as the ground for developing the music to greater heights, using this system known as ‘modal.’ Moreover, it had a profound effect on the evolution and development on the jazz music. However, it is important to understand that Davis popularized the use modal jazz and therefore, was not the inventor.

Between 1969 to 1975, Davis Miles made a remarkable breakthrough when he brought a fusion of the modal accompanied by experimentation of the instruments such as trumpets and innovation even though the direction that he procured was divisive. In the emergence of a dominance of rock and roll, he started introducing the electronics and rock aesthetics.

Additionally, to improve his musical authenticity, he added the electric keyboards as well as the wah-wah effect accelerator for his trumpets (Veal, 153). He also inspired other musicians to introduce the rock feel in their bands. The introduction of the rock effect on jazz was influenced by his knowledge of the impact of rock on the attention of the audience irrespective of how some of the solos were perceivable. Miles evolved his studio system in adopting the rock approach of recording large amounts of material and editing of the tape.

In a nutshell, the history of Jazz entails some complicated mosaic regions, development of styles and the stakeholders of music industry. Even though it is almost unmanageable to point out a particular character for the foundation of this kind of music, there are some figures who stood out in the development and growth of Jazz music. One such prominent figure in the Jazz music development is Miles Davis, a band leader, musical innovator and trumpet player.

Most scholars, fans and other jazz musicians consider Miles Davis as an influential figure that made the Jazz music grow to its current prestigious status. Between the year 1949 and his death 1992, Miles Davis played a major role in the African American music. His musical modernisms, performance comportment, as well as public personality, brought many comments, imitation, and criticism that saw the evolution of the jazz music. Furthermore, most famous Jazz musicians who came years later after his death either went through his orchestra or emanated under his coaching.

 

Works Cited

Cook, Richard. “Birth of the Cool: Jazz Needs to Rid Itself of Its Obsession with Its Greatest Icon, Writes Richard Cook.” New Statesman (1996), no. 4768, 2005, p. 40. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.96

Ferraris, Gabriele. “For a Fistful of Sitars.” Massachusetts Review, vol. 57, no. 4, Winter2016, pp. 741-749. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.96

Givan, Benjamin. “Rethinking Interaction in Jazz Improvisation.” Music Theory Online, vol. 22, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 1-24. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.96

Gridley, Mark C. “Listen to This: Miles Davis and Bitches Brew.” Notes, vol. 73, no. 3, Mar. 2017, pp. 510-513. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.96

Gridley, Mark G. “The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68.” Notes, no. 4, 2012, p. 767. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.

Natambu, Kofi. “Miles Davis: A New Revolution in Sound.” Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, no. 2, 2014, p. 36. EBSCOhost,

Schuster-Craig, John. “The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music.” Fontes Artis Musicae, no. 4, 2011, p. 442. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.9

Shim, Eunmi. “The Birth of the Cool of Miles Davis and His Associates.” Notes, no. 3, 2010, p. 567. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.

Smith, Christopher. “A Sense of the Possible: Miles Davis and the Semiotics of Improvised Performance.” TDR (Cambridge, Mass.), no. 3, 1995, p. 41. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.96

Veal, Michael E. “Miles Davis’s Unfinished Electric Revolution.” Raritan, vol. 22, no. 1, Summer2002, p. 153. EBSCOhost, 165.193.178.

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