Music icon Miles Davis has long been revered as a jazz pioneer — but what exactly did he pioneer? To some purists, jazz music can be broken into two distinct eras: Before Miles and After Miles. A student and bandmate of Bebop legends Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Miles’ musical education took place occasionally at the Julliard School of Music but mostly in the smoky clubs of 52nd street, where he was trained in the esoteric art of “hot jazz,” a hyper-complex, acrobatic style of playing torrential melodies at breakneck tempos. Miles was a quick study, but after a year touring as a rising star in Charlie Parker’s band, he dropped out in 1958. Miles found that the “hot” stuff didn’t speak to his soul; instead, he was captivated by the pensive, intimate sounds of pianist Thelonious Monk, singer Billie Holiday and composer Gil Evans. Their songs cut deeper and played more slowly than popular “hot jazz” tunes, and with those musicians’ help and influence, he pioneered a style known as “cool jazz,” which focused the genre’s intensity into a laser beam of sound.
An archival video of the historic performances of the great Miles Davis.
Miles Davis – the cool jazz sound (1959).