May 26 really does seem to be a day ripe with musicians’ birthdays. The day ushered Lenny Kravitz, Hank Williams Jr. and Stevie Nicks into the world, as well as Isaac Slade, the frontman for The Fray, which is a band I have no problem announcing adoration for. But arguably the most important birthday to happen yesterday is that of the amazing Miles Davis, who would have been 89.
After being born in Illinois, Davis started playing the trumpet when he was 13. It was around 20 years later when he released his most popular album, Kind of Blue, which is now quadruple platinum, honored as a national treasure, and is the best-selling jazz album of all time. He remains, to this day, one of the most notable figures in jazz history, and in music in general. His innovation and style inextricably changed jazz and helped preserve it as an everlasting and reverberating movement. The importance of his music is still felt and heard today.
Whether it be the soft snares in “Blue in Green,” the immense and still ubiquitous popularity of “Flamenco Sketches,” the raucous “Gingerbread Boy,” the gentle, free and sweet piano accompaniment in “Someday My Prince Will Come,” or the smooth and infectious “Freddie Freeloader,” his music is impeccably amazing and simply never ages.
He might be the person who most fully fills my study playlists, but he’s obviously so much more than relaxing background music for the struggling millennial student. I don’t know if jazz will ever make a resurgence with the young whippersnappers of today (although a lot of rap music has been thankfully incorporating its elements), but it is my sincere hope that regardless, Miles Davis will forever live on. Even if, at the very least, it’s just as the amazing music we enjoy because our parents played it for us as kids. But more ambitiously, it should be the music we save to make sure our kids hear as well.