Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991) was an American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion. Miles Davis is regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in the history of music. He has been described as "one of the great innovators in jazz".
The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll noted "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. Miles Davis was the most widely recognized jazz musician of his era, an outspoken social critic and an arbiter of style-in attitude and fashion-as well as music". His album Kind of Blue is the best-selling album in the history of jazz music and was praised by the United States House of Representatives to "pass a symbolic resolution honoring the masterpiece and reaffirming jazz as a national treasure." Miles' influence on the people who played with him has been described by music writer and author Christopher Smith as follows: Miles Davis' artistic interest was in the creation and manipulation of ritual space, in which gestures could be endowed with symbolic power sufficient to form a functional communicative, and hence musical, vocabulary.
Miles' performance tradition emphasized orality and the transmission of information and artistic insight from individual to individual. His position in that tradition, and his personality, talents, and artistic interests, impelled him to pursue a uniquely individual solution to the problems and the experiential possibilities of improvised performance. His approach, owing largely to the African American performance tradition that focused on individual expression, emphatic interaction, and creative response to shifting contents, had a profound impact on generations of jazz musicians. In 1986, the New England Conservatory awarded Miles Davis an Honorary Doctorate for his extraordinary contributions to music. Since 1960 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) has honored him with eight Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards.