Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter,
bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed
figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music. With his ever-changing
directions in music, Davis was at the forefront of a number of major stylistic
developments in jazz over his five-decade career.
Born and raised in Illinois, Davis began performing in 1940s New York with saxophonist Charlie Parker before recording the Birth of the Cool sessions for Capitol Records, which were instrumental to the development of cool jazz. In the early 1950s, he recorded some of the earliest hard bop music while on Prestige Records but did so haphazardly due to a heroin addiction.
After a widely acclaimed comeback performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1955, he signed a long-term contract with Columbia Records and recorded the 1957 album Round About Midnight. It was his first work with saxophonist John Coltrane and bassist Paul Chambers, key members of the sextet he led into the early 1960s. During this period, he alternated between orchestral jazz collaborations with arranger Gil Evans, such as the Spanish music-influenced Sketches of Spain (1960), and band recordings, such as Milestones (1958) and Kind of Blue (1959). The latter featured harmonies developed by pianist Bill Evans and was an innovative work in the emerging modal jazz style, eventually becoming arguably the most popular jazz album ever.
Davis is regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in the history of music. The Guardian described him as "a pioneer of 20th-century music, leading many of the key developments in the world of jazz." He has often been described as “one of the great innovators in jazz”. Davis died on September 28, 1991, from the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 65