It would be an understatement to say that Miles Dewey Davis III was one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. Widely considered one of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the history of music of the twentieth century, Miles Davis has played an integral role in shaping the sounds of jazz, one of the few uniquely and entirely American genres. Needless to say, the brilliant artistry that coolly flowed from his trumpet speaks for itself and clearly shows what a phenomenally inventive and talented musician he was. One could go on and on discussing, analyzing, and meticulously scrutinizing his music, as has been done readily in the past, but the purpose of this paper is to examine his rare appearances on television and the impact his music had on American culture.
Before diving into his TV appearances, a summary of the man himself and his extraordinary contributions and accomplishments seems to be in order. Trumpet player, band leader, musical innovator, composer and in the words of fellow musician Chico Hamilton, “jazz’s only superstar” (Kart 201), Miles Davis boasts a career that spans five decades, from the mid 1940s to 1991, which is almost unheard of in the music industry where careers tend to be much shorter. His long career includes awards such as eight Grammy awards, a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and three Hall of Fame awards. Davis is an icon in the jazz world, not only for his long career but also for revolutionizing the jazz genre. Without Davis’s influence, jazz would not possess the rich and complex sound it has today.
Miles Davis emerged on the scene of New York in 1944 at the same time a revolution in jazz was underway (Merod 72). “Bop,” the shorter version of “bebop,” was a “rebellion”...
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...ica. Ultimately, the debate of who Miles Davis was and how he affected jazz music may rage on for years to come, but no one will ever debate that without Miles Davis, jazz would not be what it is today.
Kart, Larry. Jazz in Search of Itself. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.
Kingman, Daniel. American Music: A Panorama. 2nd edition. New York: Schirmer Books, 1990.
Merod, Jim. “The Question of Miles Davis”. Boundary 2 28.2, 2001.
Miles Ahead Website. “Session Details: CBS-TV Studio 61 (April 2, 1959)”. Web.
“Miles Davis.” IMDb.com. Web. < http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002537/>
Porter, Eric. “’It’s About That Time’: The Response to Miles Davis’s Electric Turn’” in Miles Davis and American Culture. Gerald Early (Saint Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2001).
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