Half-way through 2020 and the year has forever become marred by tragic death around the world. Even worse, in the United States the recent murder of George Floyd has reminded us of the injustices African Americans endure on a daily basis in the United States. These continued injustices have sparked nationwide protests against police brutality toward African Americans, demanding change and accountability.
As a white musician writing and performing music that is influenced by black culture, I’d like to dedicate seven straight days of posts honoring some of the black musicians who have inspired me the most.
Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos
For today I’d like to honor one of the GOATs of jazz - Miles Davis! This man INVENTED “cool” and was an innovator his whole life, always finding a way to stay relevant. As a trumpet player I’ve got to say he is one of my biggest inspirations. I’ve transcribed some of his solos and listened to his music, but it goes farther than that. I love his image and his impact on pop culture. In an age where trumpet players are essentially absent in popular music I have always been in awe of his seemingly unattainable fame and recognition as a trumpet player.
While not the most technical, Miles’ phrasing and songwriting are top tier, just look through his discography! Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, The Birth of the Cool, Miles Ahead, and Bitches Brew to name a few albums. Miles lived a legendary life and made great art that will last for generations. He played with just about all of the jazz greats - Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Jimmy Heath, Max Roach, Charles Mingus...he was even friends with Jimi Hendrix! Now students study him in universities and his music is still listened to all over the world with over 2 million monthly Spotify listeners. What an incredible musician and story.
If you're looking for something new and music related to read check out his autobiography, I can’t recommend it enough. It gave me a better idea of a struggle I could never understand and just feels so pure and authentic. I learned a lot about the artist behind the music and his story has definitely had an impact on my own dreams as an artist. Here are some of my favorite Miles Davis songs in a playlist for you. Sit back, vibe to the cool, and appreciate Miles Davis and all that black culture has given us.
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