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milesdavis_byfranciswolffMusic 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).

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