September 28 marked the anniversary of the death of Miles Davis, the iconic jazz trumpeter and composer. This New York Times article from 1991 came up in my newsfeed and sparked my interest in revisiting some of his music from the standpoint of his influence on the jazz language. The full article is worth a read, but here is what the author, Jon Pareles says about his contribution to the idiom:
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.
Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Miles’ solo on “So What” from Kind of Blue. There are so many elements to examine in this short sample, but if nothing else pay attention to the phrasing and sense of space.
For further examples of phrasing and space, check out the previous post on Coltrane’s “I Hear A Rhapsody”.