The Picasso of Jazz

Miles Davis was one of the most important musicians of his era. While beloved in many countries around the world, he is a particular favorite in France, where he performed frequently and was made a Chevalier in the Legion of Honor, roughly equivalent to being knighted. The French culture minister who presented the award on July 16, 1991, described Davis as “the Picasso of jazz.” The comparison is apt: Davis was a creative genius who changed the course of jazz multiple times during his career.

With his understated, lyrical playing and charismatic personal style, Davis became known as the embodiment of the “cool” aesthetic—but his talent on the trumpet was certainly hot. Davis made his first 16 known studio recordings before the age of 19, and for decades after was in the forefront of jazz musicians, setting trends and exploring musical styles from bebop through cool jazz, fusion, and funk.

The Miles Davis and Edith Piaf joint issue with France celebrates a lively musical conversation between nations. Issued in June, the commemorative stamps pay tribute to two groundbreaking artists who crossed international barriers with their music.

Name, image and likeness of Miles Davis with permission from Miles Davis Properties, LLC.