There comes a time in every young life when home can offer nothing more. Young Miles Davis was bursting. He was just 18 years old but St. Louis had become too small for him and besides, his musical idols Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker had made him an offer. You’ve had an offer like this, where someone says, “If you’re ever in the Big Apple look us up.” Davis wasn’t going to pass up an invitation like that. He was going to take them up on it.
Davis’s ticket to New York came through his audition to the most prestigious music school in America: Juilliard. He audition and aced it. Davis was on his way to New York to get the education his parents had always dreamed of for him. But the real reason for going to New York wasn’t for the education Davis could get from Juilliard. Instead, it was so Davis could find Parker and Gillespie – to learn from them.
Davis spent his first two weeks in New York going to every club he could find looking for Diz and Bird. He eventually found Gillespie. But his search for Parker was met with roadblock after roadblock. “Why do you want to hang out with that junkie?” people would ask. Coleman Hawkins even told Davis to just stick to his studies at Juilliard and forget about Bird.
Eventually Davis did exactly the opposite. He quit Juilliard and started his new education in Greenwich Village, where he eventually found Parker. That’s when Davis got to know the real Parker; he was funny, but he was a con, and Davis soon realized that he liked Bird more as a musician than he did as a person.
Next on The Miles Files: Two educations at the same time.
The Miles Files (Part 1) - Miles Davis first teacher
The Miles Files (Part 2) - When Bebop came to town
Lenny Breau's first jazz teacher, Bob Erlendson
on Apr 30, 2012