Miles Davis

Trumpeter / Jazz Musician

Born: 26 May 1926
Died: 28 September 1991
Birthplace: Alton, Illinois
Best known as: Composer/performer of Kind of Blue

Name at birth: Miles Dewey Davis, Jr.

In the 1940s, Miles Davis went off to New York City to study music at Julliard. He ended up playing jazz with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie instead, soon playing trumpet behind some of the biggest bandleaders of the era. As a bandleader himself during the 1950s and '60s, his influence led to "cool" jazz and the emergence of the musician as composer and arranger. He recorded many classic albums, including Relaxin' With Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool, and, with compositional help from Bill Evans, Kind of Blue; his 1969 Bitches Brew, merging jazz with rock and free-form improvisation, made the top 40 pop charts. Unlike many trumpeters of his era, Davis relied on tone rather than speed, often using a mute with his horn. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of the past century.

Extra credit: Many sources claim 25 May as Davis's birth date, and some sources list 29 September as his death date.

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