Jazz history is massive enough at this point to be a touch intimidating. With so many box sets and so many compilations to choose from, where to start? We've got you covered, era by era, with our Jazz 101 series, which you can follow here. Each daily playlist offers up five-star performances, and tips you off to albums with plenty more gold left to explore after the intro course is over. Enjoy.
Miles Davis faced a daunting challenge in the 1960s, after John Coltrane left to become his own bandleader, as he continued with acoustic, hard bop music. Improbably, the trumpeter formed a new, even better band bolstered by two young talents -- saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock -- both of whom brought new tunes into the jazz songbook, and cooked besides. (Shorter's tunes, like "E.S.P." and "Footprints," could be harmonically or rhythmically complex while still offering soloists a lot of room to make their own way.)
Meantime, Ron Carter held down the bass chair, while Tony Williams brought a new abstract logic to jazz drumming. (Hear Williams tear up some of this band's songbook on the archival 2011 release Live in Europe 1967.) By the time of the group's last album, Miles in the Sky, Davis was obviously preparing to go electric. But before he did, he brought jazz another classic, hard swinging, bop-informed band. Check the best cuts from the quintet's five studio albums (and the live archival release) in the appended playlist.