Miles Davis has been called the "Picasso of Jazz," and his 50-year career is the nucleus of jazz history during his lifetime. He was a master of re-invention, always remaining central in the various aesthetic shapes that jazz took on during his lifetime. From the timeless Kind of Blue to the groundbreaking fusion of Bitches Brew, Davis created some of the most influential jazz LPs of all time. Modern jazz took form around Davis, a cultural icon who mastered his field.
In his late teens and early 20s, he began playing trumpet with such bop greats as saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie early, and in 1949, he recorded the songs that would eventually be released as 1957's Birth of the Cool. A record contract with Prestige in the early 1950s allowed him to put together several records with his Miles Davis Quintet (which included John Coltrane on saxophone and Red Garland on piano). 1959's Kind of Blue remains his most famous LP,
The late '60s saw Miles embracing a rock dynamic in his music that was more electric, more funky, more rhythmic, and simply more "out there" than anything that had preceded it. He worked repeatedly with musicians like John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and with records like 1969's In a Silent Way, 1970's Bitches Brew, and 1972's On the Corner, he continued his pop chart visibility with albums are absolute landmarks in jazz-funk/fusion. This era of Davis' music would come to have a profound influence on younger jazz musicians, the progressive rock movement in Europe, in addition to rock musicians like the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.
In 1975, Davis started a five-year break from recording due to health reasons, and his re-arrival to recording and touring saw him winning Grammys throughout the '80s for albums like We Want Miles and Aura. Davis passed away on September 28, 1991 due to pneumonia, respiratory failure, and a stroke. He won a posthumous Grammy for 1992's Doo-Bop, and to this day, he remains revered as the premier jazz pioneer of the twentieth century.