Never fearing mistakes, musical innovator Miles Davis (1926-1991) figured out how to make a unique sound with his trumpet... and jazz was never the same.
"Music is a blessing and a curse," he said. "But I love it and wouldn't have it no other way."
Born in Alton, Illinois, his first trumpet was a 13th birthday present from his parents. A student of Julliard in 1945, the magnet of the New York clubs pulled him from school. By 1948 he started his own nine-piece band and inspired the "cool jazz" movement with Gil Evans.
"That was my gift," he said. "Having the ability to put certain guys together that would create a chemistry and then letting them go; letting them play what they knew, and above it."
Following the premature death of mentor Charlie Parker, Davis kicked his heroin habit in 1955. He released Kind of Blue as an attempt to base jazz on modal rather than harmonic progression, celebrating group interaction rather than the talents of individual players.
"There will be fewer chords," he explained, "but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them." The melodic inventiveness of his Milestones (1958) has been acclaimed as "the best album in the history of jazz by more jazz writers than any other," according to the Guinness Book of Records.
In 1970, influenced by electric wizards Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, Davis reinvented himself again, releasing the rock-jazz fusion masterwork, Bitches Brew. The sound jolted jazz purists as an electrified Davis moved jazz from the clubs to the large arenas.
"Nothing is out of the question the way I think and live my life," he revealed. "I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning... Every day I find something creative to do with my life."
Always curious, always looking out for new things, he was known for his constant willingness to push into the unknown and make every note...and pause... count.
"Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is, he said.
There are no mistakes.