The name is synonymous with cool, Miles Davis was a jazz trumpeter and composer that defined what cool jazz was all about. Miles Davis is considered one of the most influential and innovative musical artist ever. Rolling Stone magazine described him as, “the most widely recognized jazz musician of his era, an outspoken social critic and an arbiter of style, in attitude and fashion, as well as music.” “Kind of Blue,” his album recorded in 1959, remains the best selling jazz album of all time.
One of the most iconic musical figures of the 20th century, Miles Davis was born in May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois. He received his first trumpet in 1935 from a friend of his father. He attended The Juilliard School in New York before dropping out to join legendary Charlie Parker’s Bebop quintet. He replaced Dizzy Gillespie, who left the quintet due to growing problems with alcohol and drugs. The first record sold under his own name was recorded with Charlie Parker’s band in 1947.
In the 1950s Davis encountered tough times. He became addicted to heroin and as he said, “lost my sense of discipline, lost my sense of control over my life, and I started to drift.” In 1951, he secured a deal with Prestige Records, and independent jazz label. Davis supported his heroin addiction partly with music and partly by living as a hustler and exploiting prostitutes. By 1953, his addiction became public and Davis began his recovery later kicking his heroin habit.
In 1954, Miles Davis returned to New York feeling better than he had in a long time. Shortly thereafter, he signed a deal with Columbia Records, still needing to complete four more albums with Prestige. Columbia agreed to not release an album until his agreement with Prestige expired.
In March and April 1959, Davis recorded “Kind of Blue”, considered by many to be the greatest jazz album of all time. He named the album “Kind of Blue” to describe his overall mood. He continued recording music until 1975, when he took a five year hiatus from creating music due to his mental state and his continued struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. In 1976, he renewed his deal with Columbia Records and continued recording music in the 1980s. A true legend of music, in 2009 the US House of Representatives voted 409-0 to pass the resolution that honored it as a national treasure. An artist that can make congress vote on something unanimously, now that is a true achievement.