Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
KMSU is off the air in Mt. Grove (88.7FM) due to signal interference. We are working to restore coverage at the site. In the meantime, some Mt. Grove area listeners will be able to listen over the air to KSMU at 91.1 or KSMW at 90.3FM. Or stream KSMU anywhere from any device.

6 Miles Davis Albums That Changed Music

Miles Davis during a studio recording session, October 1959.
Hulton Archive
Getty Images
Miles Davis during a studio recording session, October 1959.

Miles Davis died in 1991, but his influence on music is still being felt. The new film Miles Ahead, produced, co-written, directed by and starring Don Cheadle, is giving a new audience a fresh take on one period in the musician's career.

Davis himself wasn't the most humble about his musical sway. At a White House dinner in 1987, the jazz musician was asked what he'd done to deserve to be there. Davis wrote in his autobiography that he replied, "Well, I've changed music five or six times."

Davis' career spanned more than 50 years and encompassed everything from bebop to avant-garde to hip-hop. Professor Sean Jones of the Berklee College of Music in Boston teaches a class on Miles Davis.

"It's kind of controversial," he tells NPR's Michel Martin about Davis' claim to have changed the face of music. "You can make the argument that he indeed did change music a few times, five or six times. But you could also state that he was at the forefront of the change, by putting together bands that were a part of the movements that were going on. And I tend to subscribe to that notion.

"He, having such a unique voice, he was able to superimpose his sound on that change, making it seem as if he were the change agent."

NPR asked Jones to compile some of his favorite Miles Davis songs and albums that showcase how Davis changed — or helped change — musical tastes.

This list is sure to be debated. If you think we missed something, let us know in the comments section.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit