Miles Davis played with the who's who of jazz musicians from the 1940s through the 1990s. Or, to be accurate, they played with him. Uploaded by fantastiksports.wordpress.com.
During the 20th century, if at any time you wanted to know what was currently the coolest, most innovative form of jazz, all you had to do is find out what Miles Davis was playing. He led the way from bebop to cool jazz to jazz fusion.
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Miles’ dad gave him a trumpet at age 13, and Miles was playing professionally in a band by the time he was 16. He went to New York to study at Julliard (Great American Things, Aug. 6, 2010), but dropped out to play in local clubs, often with the Charlie Parker Quintet. After Parker’s well-documented drug problems ended his band, Davis went on to play at different times with some of the best-known jazz musicians ever: Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and more.
Davis’ most famous and best-selling album is Kind of Blue (1959), which has now earned quadruple platinum status. Perhaps no other jazz musician has had quite as much influence on rock music as he had. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll said this about him: “Miles Davis played a crucial and inevitably controversial role in every major development in jazz since the mid-’40s, and no other jazz musician has had so profound an effect on rock.” He received eight Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
This hauntingly beautiful song had French origins, but was adapted to English by American Johnny Mercer. Uploaded by mukurahat.us.
We would share this wonderful classic with Great French Things, were there such a thing, because its melody was written by a French songwriter, Joseph Kosma. American Johnny Mercer gave it English lyrics in 1947.
Johnny Mercer. Uploaded by broadwayworld.com.
Johnny Mercer founded and co-owned Capitol Records. Jo Stafford was under contract to Capitol Records. Therefore, Jo Stafford was the first to record Kosma and Mercer’s beautiful song.
Even though such popular artists as Bing Crosby and Artie Shaw did their own versions, “Autumn Leaves” didn’t really catch on for almost a decade. Then pianist Roger Williams took it to number one – the only piano instrumental ever to reach the top of the charts. From then on it became a jazz standard, brought to life by Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cannonball Adderley.
Most of the jazz versions are, understandably, instrumentals. Until recently, the essential vocal version was performed by Nat King Cole for a movie called – surprise! – Autumn Leaves. But once you’ve heard Eva Cassidy’s unbelievable version, you’ll realize that she now owns this song. OWNS it.
“Les feuilles mortes” (literally “The Dead Leaves”)