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Miles Dewey Davis was born on the 26th of May 1926, in Alton, Illinois. He became

famous around the world for his incredible trumpet and flugelhorn playing, but he was

also an accomplished keyboard player, and composer.

Although born in Alton, Illinois, Miles Davis lived in East St Louis. He came from a

wealthy middle-class background. It isn’t surprising to see that a person with the talent

of Miles Davis came from a Davis’ father musical family. His mother played the violin,

and his sister played the piano. Although Miles was not very musical himself, he

obviously saw talent in his son, and for his thirteenth birthday, bought Miles his first

trumpet. Miles was very privileged to come from the family he did, because it meant he

was able to have private trumpet lessons. He learnt from a teacher called Elwood

Buchanan, who taught Miles all the basics he needed to know, before his natural talent

and flare for improvisation took over. Miles progressed quickly at the trumpet, and

played in many bands and ensembles at his school. While still in school, he joined his

first independent group as a trumpeter. They were called Eddie Randall’s Blue Devils.

Many jazz musicians influenced Miles Davis. When Billy Eckstine’s band played in St

Louis, Miles was able to meet some of these influences; Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie

Parker. (Trumpeter and saxophonist respectively) At the age of 18, Davis went to

study at the Juilliard School of Music, in New York. How ever, what he really wanted to

be doing was just playing jazz. He left the school to play in the small clubs of the

famous 52nd street. He did much of his playing with one of his idols, Charlie Parker.

Davis joined Parker’s quintet in 1945. Together, they recorded some of the first true

bebop songs – songs such as ‘Now’s the time’. It was during this time that Miles Davis

established his style as a jazz trumpeter.


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