Davis, Miles Dewey

Davis, Miles Dewey

(1926–91) jazz trumpeter; born in Alton, Ill. He was raised near St. Louis, Mo., in a prosperous African-American family and played with local bands. After brief classical studies at the Juilliard School in 1944, he played in Charlie Parker's trailblazing bebop quintet until 1948. Between 1949–69, he was at the forefront of jazz, developing or advancing several significant and contrasting styles and trends, all of which highlighted his intensely personal sensibilities. These included cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, fusion, and several innovative orchestral collaborations with Gil Evans. As a bandleader, he was a discerning recruiter of new talent, including John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Herbie Hancock. He was widely admired for his cool demeanor and sartorial elegance, but his embrace of an electrified commercial approach during the last 20 years of his career, a period in which he performed irregularly, found little favor with his original audience.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.