The Essential Miles Davis Albums to Prepare You for Don Cheadle's Biopic

By Ian Holubiak | Mar 28, 2016 02:00 PM EDT
American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis (1926 - 1991), sits with his instrument during a studio recording session, October 1959. (Photo : Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

With a new Miles Davis biopic in our midst, Don Cheadle's own Miles Ahead examines one part of Davis' illustrious and controversial career. Having inspired a long-measure of genres from bebop to hip-hop, the legendary trumpeter may not have been arrogant so much as self-aware when he commented at a 1987 White House dinner, "I've changed music five or six times."

A career that spans more than 50 years and which has encompassed--and expanded--our fundamental sonic perspective of jazz and beyond, Davis' life and legacy is hard to summarize into just one album. That's why the trumpeter's tangible influence on modern music has to be pushed beyond one collection of recordings.

Professor Sean Jones of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, who is a scholar and authority on Miles Davis, recounted:

"It's kind of controversial. You can make the argument that he indeed did change music a few times, five or six times. But you could also state that he was at the forefront of the change, by putting together bands that were a part of the movements that were going on. And I tend to subscribe to that notion.

"He, having such a unique voice, he was able to superimpose his sound on that change, making it seem as if he were the change agent."

And Jones' interpretation of Miles' career, where the change and path forward relied solely on Davis' understanding and volatility to go in any direction he saw possible, is what gives him authority enough to compose a list of the albums in which Davis distinctly changed something in music.

Since it was Miles who said he changed the sonic landscape "fix or six times," that's where Professor Jones established the six albums essential to any music listener. With a nod to the good people at NPR and Mr. Jones himself, we present three of the six albums penned as the six times Davis changed forever.


Birth of the Cool

Relaxin' With the Miles Davis Quintet

Latest Updated

Trending Stories