As a pianist, he applied the classical influences of his teacher, the French master Darius Milhaud, to jazz, playing with an elegance of tone and phrase that supposedly were the antithesis of the American sound.
As a humanist, he was at the forefront of integration, playing black jazz clubs throughout the deep South in the ’50s, a point of pride for him.
“For as long as I’ve been playing jazz, people have been trying to pigeonhole me,” he once told the Tribune.
“Frankly, labels bore me.”
Miles Davis, 1958 via LIFE
Oct. 1, 1967: Members of the Eastern Conference of Jazz Societies gathered at Slug’s in Greenwich Village. Freddie Hubbard, right, led the Jazz Communicators, with Joe Henderson, left, on the saxophone. The Eastern Conference of Jazz Societies began its three-day conference that weekend at the Fine Arts Center of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. After a day of lectures and discussions, the conference spilled out into the city’s jazz clubs for necessary “field work.” Photo: Barton Silverman/The New York Times