Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.
Many well-known musicians rose to prominence as members of Davis' ensembles, including saxophonists Gerry Mulligan, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, George Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman, Branford Marsalis and Kenny Garrett; trombonist J. J. Johnson; pianists Horace Silver, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett; guitarists John McLaughlin, Pete Cosey, John Scofield and Mike Stern; bassists Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Marcus Miller and Darryl Jones; and drummers Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, and Al Foster.
Davis' first recorded album was “First Miles,” recorded from April 4, 1945 through August 14, 1947, but released on July 12, 1990 by Savoy Records. Davis formed one of his first nonet known as the "Miles Davis Band" consisting of himself (trumpet), Mike Zwerin (trombone), Bill Barber (tuba), Junior Collins (French horn), Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), Lee Konitz (alto saxophone), John Lewis (piano), Al McKibbon (bass), Max Roach (drums) and other musicians.
The session recordings with this nonet were later released in the critical acclaimed album “Birth of the Cool” in 1957 by Capitol Records. However, he later signed to Prestige Records and released his major debut album “Blue Period” in 1951. He released studio albums under this record label from 1951 through 1961, with the exception of “Blue Moods”which was released by Debut Records in 1955.
After an unsuccessful career, he later signed to Columbia and released “'Round About Midnight” on March 18, 1957. The following albums did not chart, until the 4×Multi-Platinum certificated “Kind of Blue” was released on August 17, 1959 and became the best-selling jazz album of all time. His next album, “Sketches of Spain,” received Gold status by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
With the release of “Miles in the Sky” Davis shortly abandoned his hard bop years and continued his career by betaking to the jazz fusion and avant-garde jazz genres, with plans of combining genres. In this era, also know as the "Electric Miles" era, he released the studio album “Bitches Brew,” which received a Platinum certification by RIAA.
In the period between 1981 and 1991 Davis continued to release albums under the Columbia label, but two of eight studio albums were released under the label Warner Bros.. In opposition to his earlier records, he combined jazz music with pop music, using instruments like keyboards and turning more into the mainstream and against the sound of his previous music.
However, he finished his music career by releasing “Doo-Bop,” in which he experimentally combined jazz music with hip-hop, but it was not the first album to do so, “On the Corner” already contained hip-hop beats.
Davis died on September 28, 1991 from a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure in Santa Monica, California at the age of 65. On October 7, 2008, his album “Kind of Blue,” released in 1959, received its fourth platinum certification from the RIAA, signifying sales of 4 million copies. Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
On November 5, 2009, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan sponsored a measure in the US House of Representatives to recognize and commemorate the album “Kind of Blue” on its 50th anniversary. The measure also affirms jazz as a national treasure and "encourages the United States government to preserve and advance the art form of jazz music." It passed, unanimously, with a vote of 409–0 on December 15, 2009.