Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #64

Miles Davis (1926 – 1991)

64 Miles Davis

Many young performers have come to New York in search of a career in the arts. Few have reached the unparalleled heights of influence and legacy as Miles Davis. The young jazz trumpeter attended Julliard and soon began playing as sideman in such Harlem mainstays as Monroe’s and Minton’s Playhouse, as well as the great string of 52nd Street jazz clubs that no longer stand. Recognized almost immediately as an innovative musical explorer who, at the same time, had a mastery of melody (thanks to the music theory he learned at Julliard), Davis quickly rose to the role of bandleader and played with such luminaries as Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Billy Eckstine, Gil Evans, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins, all while still in his 20’s. Though he performed in such classic NYC venues as Fillmore East, the Plaza Hotel, and Carnegie Hall, his greatest contribution to jazz may well be as a recording artist, with many revolutionary albums, culminating in Kind of Blue, the bestselling jazz album of all time. Today, the block on West 77th Street where he lived during that time bears the name Miles Davis Way.


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