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Chapter
14
The Modality of Miles Davis and John coltrane
Overview

Miles Davis was a central figure in the 1950s, drawing together different trends in “cool jazz” and “hard bop.” We consider his career, which traversed from bebop and cool jazz into the harrowing world of heroin addiction, while his return in 1954 sparked the shift to hard bop. Davis’s Quintet in the 1950s was the model for a successful post-bebop small group, with the trumpet player’s carefully pitched, restrained tone dramatically juxtaposed against the garrulous, harmonically based idiom of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. We explore Davis’s interactions with Gil Evans, and trace the formation of modal jazz in the late 1950s. Along the way, we consider the music of Bill Evans, who as Davis’s pianist provoked the harmonic language of Davis’s masterpiece, Kind of Blue.

  • Miles Davis, So What
  • John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  • John Coltrane, Acknowledgement
  • Miles Davis, ESP

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