Miles Davis, Antibes, France, 1963
Miles Davis was a restless innovator, controversial celebrity, and the dominant jazz figure of the second half of the 20th century. Like Picasso, he never stood still artistically. Instead, Davis explored a series of styles: bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz-rock fusion. The dozens of musical masterworks he and his bands created won accolades from fans, critics, and musicians around the world.
Join John Edward Hasse, longtime curator of American music at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, as he recounts Davis’s struggles against racism, convention, and his own demons. In a talk highlighted by clips and music recordings, Hasse presents such musical gems as Boplicity, ’Round Midnight, Summertime, So What, and Footprints. He also highlights film footage of Davis recording his haunting soundtrack to Elevator to the Gallows and his last public performance, at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival. While emphasizing his acoustic, pre-1969 music, Hasse also explains the genius behind Davis’ 1970 landmark album Bitches Brew, signaling a growing interest in the jazz-rock genre.
Hasse also places Davis’ musical contributions in the context of such other giants as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie. And he relates the story of how Davis’ artifacts came to the American History Museum.
Hasse’s books include Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington and Discover Jazz.
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