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Topics: Miles Davis & Modern Jazz

REMU-UT.1111   History & Criticism   2 Credits
Instructor(s): Ashley Kahn

Dazzlingly inventive and consistently cool – whatever musical style he was busy inventing – Miles Davis stands as one of the most courageous and influential musicians of the 20th Century. His career is a roadmap of the history of modern jazz, and reveals how one man could change the path of an entire genre – as he did six or seven times! This course will cover Miles’s first 15 years in New York City, a period that included one of the most fertile and pivotal periods in modern music, and which culminated trumpeter’s enduringly popular recording Kind of Blue – which continues to be one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time. This course will look at Miles’s singular career from a variety of perspectives: socially, musically, and business-wise.

The course objectives are ambitious for just six classes: an understanding of Davis’s restless, intrepid genius and the initial, defining steps of his career; a familiarity of modern jazz as a whole; an embrace of a multitude of approaches to examining recorded music in general; and a grasp of the ideas and vocabulary to describe jazz and musical performances. With readings, listenings, documentaries and guest speakers – plus visits to area jazz clubs – we will accomplish exactly that.