Miles Davis's name is synonymous with twentieth-century jazz. Alongside Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, he is one of the three most influential trumpet players in the history of jazz.
Miles Dewey Davis got his first trumpet at the age of 9 or 10 and took lessons from Elwood Buchanan. By 1948 he had formed his own nine-piece band with a revolutionary new horn section of trumpet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, trombone, French horn and tuba, backed by piano, bass and drums.
Employing arrangements by Gil Evans and others, this line-up – featuring Kai Winding, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, J. J. Johnson and Kenny Clarke – recorded three seminal sessions that were later collected together on an LP under the title The Birth Of The Cool. The name was entirely appropriate, for this music marked a break with bebop and the emergence of a new 'cool' jazz style that was to prove hugely influential (represented on this collection by the tracks 'Jeru' and 'Boplicity').
The Columbia contract in the mid-1950s - the label he was to remain with for the next thirty years - enabled Davis to put together a stellar quintet featuring John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chamber and Philly Joe Jones. The period is represented on this Rough Guide collection by the tracks 'Nature Boy' and ''Round Midnight'. In 1957, Davis teamed up again with arranger Gil Evans on the album 'Miles Ahead', with a twelve-strong brass orchestra to create one of the great lyrical masterpieces of modern jazz (represented here by the title track, 'Blues For Pablo' and 'New Rhumba').