What we can learn from Miles Davis’ embodying “The Cool”
By Zuko Komisa
Looking back in the last few decades, one can’t ignore the effortless swag that came with the jazz ensembles as they cresendo’d melodic masterpieces. Innovation and fashion at the center of their performances, with blends of timeless classics and an elevated taste in style and elegance.
The impact, the likes of Miles Davis had on the jazz landscape continues to be hailed as a turning point in how we consume jazz today. In a roundtable with his former band members at this year’s Jazz Congress, it was well articulated how he went against jazz critics, the status quo of the day and ventured into a form of jazz that represented a newer generation that was hell bent on creating a sound that spoke to the times. When he started playing “Bebop” it came across as toned down, relaxed and digestible to the pallet. This is in the early 1950’s with a heavy influence of classical music in the presentation.
With every innovation in jazz there were always unconventional ways the sound came across, the introduction of new instrument also played a massive role. The French horn, oboe, and tuba offer a uniquely diverse soundscape that disturbed the perceived reality of what jazz should sound like.
Jazz being known for it’s occasional improvisation, Miles Davis focused on the more on composition adding a much needed element of being deliberate with how the sound manifested
Though jazz has been dubbed as music of the trenches, with it’s root firmly steeped in Africa and later the streets of New Orleans, Miles Davis’s music grew on white, educated musicians which was solely based on the classical influence it possessed.
Though its possible to trace the origin and history of a people through music, there are turning points with every changing season. With every generation crafting its own path and direction to what the jazz music’s soundscape is heard, it’s important to draw inspiration from the likes of Miles Davis as well as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Art Tatum, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and many other that chose the cool as their soul’s voice in the times.