Influence of Miles Davis on Jazz Music

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Introduction

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 America 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 performers. Although it is almost impossible to point out a particular character for the beginning of this kind of music, are some figures stood out in the development and growth of it.

One such prominent figure in jazz music development was 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 years 1949 and 1992, the year of his death, 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 jazz music. Furthermore, most famous jazz musicians who came years later after Davis’s death either went through his orchestra or emanated under his coaching. Additionally, all these musicians have quoted that time they spent with Miles Davis played a significant role in their musical career development. Therefore, this research essay will focus on the influence of Miles Davis on jazz music by critically looking at his participation at crucial junctures in the development of jazz. The essay will specifically prioritize the innovations he made to the styles that impacted the growth, creativity, his significance in developing bop, modal, cool as well as fusion jazz. Moreover, the discussion of Davis’s contributions concerning the critiques of fellow musicians as well as historians regarding the evolution of the rock system will be made (Schuster-Craig 442).

Miles appeared in the scenes of jazz music at the concert in New York in 1944 at a time when jazz reconstruction was taking place. Miles Davis’s capacity in the development of jazz music was centered in his ability to innovate, construct as well as employ improvisational opportunities, picking and merging compositions, other performance considerations, players, and musical styles. One of the most important legacies of Miles Davis left to his jazz music colleagues was the heightened capability to use and generate symbolic interpretative space. These symbolic explanations focused on the enactment of the “experiential possibility of music.” Miles focused on producing quality and attentive musical elasticity that would take performers to the level of co-composing interpreters, a piece of music that would encourage players to react to the improvisational moment with the same consideration of freedom that he had (Givan 2).

One of the major achievements of Miles Davis was the use of ambiguous, nonverbal communication in his music by forcing his players to engage with him in the 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 replaced the old gestures with new ones (Smith 41). The experience of indecisiveness and imbalance gave the audience no choice but to make a move of artistic imagination if they needed to grasp a sense of the performance. One of the significant developments of jazz music during this period was the revolution of bop by big bands, racial injustices, the commercialism of music, and restrictive harmonic skeleton of jazz music which was the standard style at the time (Natambu 36). Miles played a significant role in molding the entire jazz music not as a 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 Miles Davis’s interaction with these players, he became knowledgeable of the bop arcane writing and style through imitation, constant jamming as well as informal tutorship. In 1948, Miles collaborated with Gil Evans and Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra, who worked with “layered harmonic voicings.” The two musicians introduced the French horn and tuba playing them as melodic. Davis played the 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 album which gave birth to the cool sound and 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 jazz musicians came to support the shift of the musicality of jazz, and they agreed 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, 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 acknowledged as the “hard bop” emerging to the scene in the era when the most audience, especially the whites, disdained the cool. The album 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 of “soul music.” Davis arose to the world of jazz music as a dominant figure impacting 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 the development of a playing style that featured most of his previous works.

Miles Davis borrowed the soft tone that he used in his cool era while also slackening the melodious activity of jazz. He used the fragmented phrasing technique which allowed an opportunity for the rhythm section of jazz, setting his style apart through singing a scale-oriented rather than chord-oriented 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 the development and revolution spearheaded by Miles Davis (Waters 767). The recording has numerous changes considered by abandoning the use of the standard chord and adopting a sequence of scales as the ground for developing music to greater heights using the system known as “modal.” Moreover, it had a profound effect on the evolution of jazz music. However, it is important to understand that Davis popularized the use of modal jazz and, therefore, was not the inventor.

Between 1969 and 1975, Miles Davis made a remarkable breakthrough when he brought a fusion of the modal jazz accompanied with the experimentation of instruments such as trumpets even though the direction that he procured was divisive. In the emergence of rock and roll dominance, he started to introduce 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 audience attention irrespective of how some of the solos were perceivable. Miles evolved his studio system by 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 stakeholders of the music industry. Even though it is almost unmanageable to point out a particular character for the foundation of this kind of music, are some figures stood out in the development and growth of jazz music. One such prominent figure in the jazz music development was 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 1992, Miles Davis played a significant 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 jazz music. Furthermore, most famous jazz musicians who came years later after his death either went through his orchestra or emanated under his coaching.

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