Miles Davis And The Transition And Growth Of Jazz And Developing Jazz Criticism

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Cultural capital is a theory formulated by Pierre Bourdieu (1986) that describes the cultural possessions that determine social prestige in a system of exchange. Cultural capital is always in flux, continuously transitioning through low-brow, middle-brow, and high-brow art forms. Since the early 1920s, Jazz has been constantly growing its cultural capital and its intellectual property as a scholarly art form. Miles Davis was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. With works such as “Birth of the Cool” and “Kind of Blue” being regarded as important intellectual advancements in jazz by many music critics. This paper will explore Miles Davis as a highly significant figure in the transition and growth of jazz in its cultural capital through his works and important artistic collaborations. This paper will explore the effect Miles Davis had on racism in the developing jazz criticism.

Jazz had it's beginnings in the 1920's with New Orleans being a major centre in it's establishment as a significant addition to North American culture. As a result of a diaspora from French, Spanish, and African ethnicities during the late 19th and early 20th century, New Orleans became a cultural hub with an established black community. The classical influence of the European settlers, as well as the African and Caribbean cultural aspects, merged to create the birth of the New Orleans brass band sound, now known today as Dixieland Jazz. Dixieland Jazz featured prominent bandleader and musician Charles “Buddy” Bolden, who arranged music for special community events such as weddings and funerals where dancing was an integral part of the musical performance. With the beginning of the 20th century, the public wanted ne...

... middle of paper ... of public support, he was able to elevate jazz music into art music – an intellectual piece for understanding. Davis was not only influenced by the music of his contemporaries but was also inspired by the music of classical composers and of other genres by which his fellow quintet member, Bill Evans, introduced to him. The collaboration of Davis and his white pianist sparked great interest by both the public and academics. This partnership crossed many racial boundaries that many musicians were unable to cross. The influence of the European classical genre and collaboration with a white musician brought into question the cultural capital of jazz music as well as the race associated with it. Jazz music transitioned into a music genre of its own prestige and not simply the voice of the ongoing struggle for the civil rights of black people in the United States.
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