Miles Davis was born in 1926 and he was an American Jazz musician, a composer, a trumpeter and a bandleader and he was considered to be one among the 20th century influential musicians. His major jazz music developments included the bebop, the modal jazz, the jazz fusion, the cool jazz and the hard bop. Throughout the history of jazz music, Davis Miles was considered to be “ one of the key figures of the history of jazz” (Cook, 2007). He died in 1991 as a king of jazz music.
In the 1940s, bebop, a new style of jazz which had fast tempos, complex harmonies, and intricate melodies, was born. This bebop was considered to be jazz by the intellectuals since there was no need of the huge bands: they played for only the listening audiences, not for the dancing audiences (Cooke 1999). It was in these bebop years that Davis moved to study in the city of New York in the Juilliard School of Music in the fall of 1944 immediately after he had graduated from high school.
It was one of his dreams to meet his idol Charlie Parker who on meeting him, he was able to become one of the jam session musicians at two nightclubs in Harlem, the Monroe’s and the Minton’s Playhouse. This group mostly comprised of all the leaders of the revolution of the bebop who in most cases were very young players like Fats Navarro, J. J. Johnson, and Freddie Webster. There were also other established musicians like Kenny Clark and Thelonious Monk. It was during this period that he quit the Juilliard school and started playing professionally since he complained that the school taught too much of the white European repertoire. He founded the cool jazz in 1948-1949.
Jazz was believed to have been born in the United States of America and it was the jazz musicians who also invented the drum set. The words “ cool” and “ hip” were original terms of jazz. Jazz was a popular music of the black people who lived in New Orleans from the 19th century. The jazz was very unique by its improvisation and syncopated characteristics and it drew on West Africa rhythms, gospel, black spiritual songs, European harmonies, and ragtime.
In 1950-1954 periods, it was the hard bop and the blue period where Davis went on a tour to Paris and was fascinated bout the cultural environment where he found out that the African American jazz artists felt more appreciated and respected than in their homes of origin. This showed how the black African Americans adored the jazz since it brought out their black identities and it gave them a peaceful sensation since they could be able to express their feelings and it could also uplift their spirits when they were down and feeling very sad.
In 1955-1958, there was the birth of the first quintet and the sextet where Davis performance at the Newport jazz festival was admired greatly and he was able to recruit new players who became the first quintet. The quintet was disbanded in 1957 following problems which Davis blamed on the drug addiction of the other musicians
In my own opinion, deciding to do a research on Miles Davis was not a waste of time because I was able to get to know how the jazz musical form came about and I also got to know what the jazz meant to the Black Americans and why it was so precious to them. I also got to understand the reason why so many people in America love listening to jazz. What appealed to me about the history of Jazz is that this music helped to bring out the uniqueness of the African-American culture and also to enable the black people to have a sense of racial pride. Jazz music was used by the black artists so as to embrace “ the low down folks” and also uphold their faces in the American standardization and it also helped in the bridging the gap which existed in the realm between the high art and the vernacular culture (Giddins 1998).
After I did the research, I was able to embrace the importance of jazz musical form as a symbolism of nature forces, time, and sometimes even death. Before I did the research, I had thought that jazz was meant only for black people who were living in poverty stricken areas and considered to be discriminated since they did not fit in the real world or modernization. I found out that the jazz music brought out their black identity and pride and it was a type of a musical form which anyone could listen to since it enabled one to express his feelings and also it could uplift one’s soul when one feels down and sad.
What I learned from researching on this topic is that the use of musical forms like jazz, blues, and poppular songs by the black artists brought out their rich African culture. Moreover, it brought the blacks and the whites together since in those times the radios which were used to play this musical forms were found in the areas dominated by the black Americans and the white Americans could be found in these areas listening to jazz which was commonly played in the black American communities. These musical forms were seen by many black American artists as a source of unity among the American people since the white Americans visited the black American communities so as to be able to listen to jazz and blues music which was not played among them. These musical forms were appealing to all the people in America including these two groups.
The surprise that I got from this research is that I found that the African American artists were very brave and confident and despite the fact that they had a very bad and painful past suffering under the hands of the white Americans who denied them all their rights and discriminated them because of their race and origin. I was very surprised to find out that Jazz dance and style originated from Africa (Ward 2000) since the Africans had their own unique culture and ideas and they ended up in America when they were sold as slaves from Africa. The hunches that I felt about jazz is that the musical form is very appealing and relaxing since it made me feel appreciated and I was also able to express my feelings. Sometimes, I loved listening to jazz when I felt sad which highlighted my moods. I knew little about how jazz came to be until I did a research and I found out everything about jazz.
In conclusion, jazz was used by artists and poets had a way of acknowledging their black identities and fighting racialism which was becoming a major problem in the United States of America. The musical forms brought the white Americans and the black Americans together. This association was a source of strength and inspiration for the black community. Jazz was used by the black American artists to show and express all the pain and sufferings that all the black artists and performers had to endure in the economic hardship, sexual exploitation by the whites, and the violence that they experienced which had made them migrate. This showed that jazz was a mask used to hide all the personal pain that was associated with the black humanities.
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