P is for Miles F*@#ing Davis
Miles Davis is a personal hero of mine (very original, I know). He was fiercely experimental, and downright averse to complacency. He followed his own compass, but was also in touch with the times he lived in. He was fiercely individualistic, but orchestrated incredible group dynamics by pairing the right individuals with/against each other in his bands.
Miles music, particularly in the late 60s through the 70s, had a dark aura to it. Two of his most potent works during this time were titled “Bitch’s Brew” and “LIVE-EVIL”. Take a listen to Bitch’s Brew if you get a chance:
Crazy, right? It was unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. It broke down all sorts of expectations of structure and composition, and borrowed as much from the jazz tradition as it did from Rock. This is music of the night. There’s a chaos, uncertainty, a tension and slow creeping build, with brief cathartic explosions situated throughout.
Throughout all the changes in the sounds of his bands, the shifting approaches to group improvisation and structural experimentation, Miles’ voice always remained consistent. It’s astounding – you can hear the same Miles from his bebop years through his most wildly experimental 70s recordings.
Calm. Intense. Controlled. Laser-focused. Never in a rush.
Miles had an instantly recognizable style. And his entire persona radiated the same aesthetic as his musical voice did. Miles was socially reserved (controlled), but extremely expressive in appearance. In short: Miles embodied COOL.
It’s fascinating to me to correlate the way he carried himself (somaesthetically?) in appearance and manner to his his musical evolution. To that end, I compiled this gallery to demonstrate Miles’ evolution of style. He was a living artwork.