RIP Miles Davis – A Brief Look at His Influence

As one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, Miles Davis inspired countless artists with his work. Take a look at a few of our favourites…

Today, the 28th of September 2012, is the 21st anniversary of the death of Miles Davis. As an artist at the forefront of jazz and many of its movements, Davis’s DNA is woven into a tremendous quantity of modern music both as an influence and a rich source of sampling material. As a trumpeter he pushed his instrument to new levels, especially later in his career with the integration of electric instruments and effects, and as a composer the modes and chords, the instrumentation combinations, and rhythms he used in songs defined the sound that many hip hop and soul sampling artists hail as the holy grail of digging potential.

Miles Davis samples

It’d be false of me to sit and talk about Miles Davis as if I were any kind of authority, so if you feel like you need to bone up then head over to the official Miles Davis homepage, take a look at his very well constructed Wikipedia entry, and maybe even put a copy of his autobiography in your shopping cart. What I am going to do on this mild Friday afternoon is compile a short, celebratory list of some of our favourite well – and lesser – known pieces of music that sample, interpolate, or reinterpret the man’s work. Let us know if you’ve got any particular favourite Miles Davis samples in the comments…

Blue in Green

Eminently sampleable, gut wrenchingly emotional, Blue in Green from the Kind of Blue LP has been borrowed countless times. Here are a couple of favourites – old friend Pat D sure knows how to chop a meaningful sample out of a track, and 20Syl of Hocus Pocus’s haunting replaying skills are wonderful…

The Samplers


The Original

Lonely Fire

The gritty, dark sound of Notorious B.I.G.’s first LP definitely echoes the ominous overtones on this track…

The Sampler

The Original

Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio)

Late great Nujabes had a way of finding particularly emotional samples in his record collection, and this is no exception.

 The Sampler

The Original

Miles Runs the Voodoo Down

This one mightn’t seem that relevant – it’s ‘just’ a few drum hits – but go beyond the physical act of sampling and consider that Radiohead were listening to Miles Davis records, enjoying them, soaking them up… appreciation for music, and influence, goes well beyond simply using the same sounds.

The Sampler

The Original


Favourites of your own? Let us know below!

  • Benjamin

    What an excellent idea for a post, Chris!

    Miles carries a special place in my heart.

    Sure, there are casual appreciators. But those that get his work feel it at the core of their soul.

    I think “On The Corner” was somehow mistakenly left off the list. That album will continue to be ahead of its time in 30 years. It still blows my skull off trying to get my head around those rhythms.

    It’s not a record for the casual listener, to be sure.

    I would say that this and “Live Evil” are crucial in anybody’s collection.

    I find it funny that the jazz community more or less despise this period of his work. From a fan base of a genre that bent preconceptions from its birth, to dismiss it as a cash cow cash in to the hippie days or as random noise is criminal.

Hello. Add your message here.