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Miles Davis: “Autumn Leaves”

Many folks reading this post know more about Miles Davis than I do. So it makes little sense for me to write anything about the second most important trumpet player who ever lived.

One quote seems appropriate. It is from Jon Pareles and ran in The New York Times obit that was published on August 29, 1991, the day after Davis died:

His solos, whether ruminating on a whispered ballad melody or jabbing against a beat, have been models for generations of jazz musicians. Other trumpeters play faster and higher, but more than in any technical feats Mr. Davis’s influence lay in his phrasing and sense of space. “I always listen to what I can leave out,” he would say.

Equally important, Mr. Davis never settled into one style; every few years he created a new lineup and format for his groups. Each phase brought denunciations from critics; each, except for the most recent one, has set off repercussions throughout modern jazz. “I have to change,” he once said. “It’s like a curse.”

Here is a very late version of Summertime. Information on Davis can be found at dozens of sites, including NPR and Miles Ahead. Don’t laugh–a good condensed bio for those unfamiliar with the outlines of the Davis story is at PBS Kids.

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