The Jazz Man Testifies

This post is from Weekend teacher, David Moss. David is also a Jazz musician, he plays bass. Here is a photo of him at one of our class parties (David is on the left).

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Check out David’s new website. You can listen to some music and read his biography. Check back for updates!

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Below David tells us about Jazz music and one of his favorite musicians, Miles Davis. You can see some pictures and listen to some music Miles made throughout the years.

Jazz is the only art form invented in the United States.  Many other countries can claim to have invented more than just one form of art, but for the U.S., they can only claim Jazz as their unique invention and contribution to the art world.  There are several noteworthy musicians who were innovators of Jazz, with Charlie Parker being the main innovator who kicked it off and ignited the flame for the rest of the 20th century.  However, another musician who came from St. Louis, Missouri, and “hunted down” Charlie Parker in New York City to join his band when he was only 17 years old, was the trumpet player Miles Davis.  Miles continues to be recognized in history as the most influential and famous (most recognized) Jazz musician ever.

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Every decade, from the 1940’s up until the time of his death in 1991, Miles tried something new, and “changed with the times” along with how the state of consciousness and culture was changing.  He adapted and created music that was relevant to any present time.  In the 1940s, he would contribute to Be-Bop, in the 50s it would innovate “cool” music, which was vastly different than any other trumpet player during that time.  In the 1960s, he would go on to pioneer the way for hard hitting Hard Bop. The 1970s also saw a radical change with Miles using a lot of electronic instruments, synthesizers and pedals for trumpet.  In the 1980s, Miles led the way in the genre of Fusion, continuing to use a lot of Pop electric sounds.  The fascinating part of it all was that Miles Davis always sounded like Miles, no matter what configuration or experimentation he would embark in, one always knew that Distinct, personalized tone and sound that Miles had.
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Miles Davis also helped many other musicians launch their own careers, because basically if you played with Miles Davis, then you had to always be good enough.  Miles was renown for choosing the right musicians at the right time for his bands.  He thought like an artist, knowing how to use each musician to achieve the effects he desired.
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Miles Davis and Charlie Parker in the 1940s
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Miles Davis in the 1980s
video of 1950’s quintet:
1960’s quintet, sorcerer  
1960’s live
1970’s “bitches brew”
miles live 1970’s
miles in the 80’s (good one!)
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