From those that influenced him to those that he influenced, and everything in between, Miles Davis worked magic. At times daring, at times romantic, the legend of Miles Davis cannot be summed up in mere words. Miles Davis: Life of a Musical Legend Introduction The life of musician Miles Davis was extraordinary, to say the least. It was so profound that it has been marked by most not by the dates of his birth and death, but by the periods of music that he produced and the influences that he had on other musicians. These influences in and of themselves were so great that they are still felt throughout various genres of modern music today. His career spanned six decades, and became so profound that even today his music transcends time and space to bring listeners to their knees. His contributions to music have outlived his life, and the power that he held when he aspired to make music actually made magic for thousands over his lifetime and will continue to live on, quite possibly forever. Miles Dewey Davis III began life not as a legend, but as just another child. He was born in Alton, Illinois, but raised in East St. Louis (Sony Music Entertainment, 2012). His father was a dentist, and his earliest memory was that of turning on a burner on the gas stove; when it lit, all of a sudden, the fear that he felt challenged him to “go forward into something that I knew nothing about” (Davis & Troupe, 1989). Influences of Music and Performers Musical influences surrounded Davis, even before he was a legendary musician. When he was thirteen, the high school band leader offered him trumpet lessons if he could obtain a trumpet, which led to his father buying him one over the objections of his mother (Davis & Troupe, 1989). Davis did not know until much later that his mother was a blues pianist, and never quite forgave her for keeping the secret from him (Davis & Troupe, 1989). This did not, however, hinder his own ability to make music. The first love of Miles Davis was jazz. He loved to “fool around” with what was called “vibrato”, and aspired to be like musician Harry James someday (Davis & Troupe, 1989). His teacher had other aspirations, and told him plainly not to play like anyone else, but to develop his own style, because he had what it took to be “his own trumpet man” (Davis & Troupe, 1989). Though at the time the words stung and wounded the impressionable young man, later he took the advice to heart (Davis & Troupe, 1989). It is plain to anyone that hears his music that he followed that advice. Early influences of performers stayed with Davis permanently. Though things were rapidly going downhill between Davis and his mother by the time he was thirteen, he still credits her with buying him two albums of musicians that he loved, Duke Ellington and Art Tatum (Davis & Troupe, 1989). Louis Armstrong also helped to influence Davis, but not in such a way that was personal to him (Kahn, 2000). More so were musicians Eddie Randle and Billy Eckstein, who allowed Davis the chance to play with their bands as an unproven youth (Sony Music Entertainment, 2012). His greatest influences, however, were Dizzie Gillespie and Charlie “Bird” Parker; when he first heard the duet play jazz together in East St. Louis, Illinois, he ...
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