Miles Davis (1926-1991) would have turned 90 today. He apprenticed with Charlie Parker when he was 19 and quickly became a soloist whose signature style was recognizable even as he was still refining it. Davis is frequently quoted as claiming that he changed music five or six times. The circumstances of the alleged quote and to whom he may have addressed it are in dispute. Hyperbole aside, from his bebop beginnings to his integration of jazz with rock and pop during his final years, Davis had a profound effect on music in the twentieth century. He continues to influence musicians of several generations and in several fields.
By the early fifties, Davis had become one of the most expressive melodic players in all of jazz, as in “It Never Entered My Mind” from volume 2 of his 1954 Blue Note album titled Miles Davis, with Horace Silver, piano; Percy Heath, bass; and Art Blakey, drums. He once said, “I love to play ballads.”
To millions of listeners, no instance of Davis’s influence is more familiar than his 1959 recording Kind Of Blue. It is often described as the best-selling of all jazz albums. On this landmark Davis birthday, here is “So What,” with the sextet that also included John Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Cannonball Adderley, alto saxophone; Bill Evans, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; and Jimmy Cobb, drums.