The origins of Jazz are heard in Louis Armstrong, who brought his emancipating sound to Chicago from New Orleans in 1922. Armstrong’s free-spirited phrasing on the coronet/trumpet and tight combination of melody and rhythm allowed him to become the first Jazz soloist. Generations heard adventure in his improvisation, extending from horn to scat-oriented vocals.

Everyone else followed.

In their own very distinct style.

Trumpet player-composer Miles Davis was the birth of cool. He wrapped the free-flowing tones of his Martin Committee trumpet into a bouquet for the world. Davis was born in 1926 on a clarion call out of Alton, Il. and raised in East St. Louis.

By 1944 he had joined saxophonist Charlie Parker’s quartet in New York City. Davis died in 1991 of a stroke and respiratory failure. Davis is buried with a black Martin Committee trumpet in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, NY.

Chicago-born keyboardist Herbie Hancock has taken jazz to worlds that Louis Armstrong might never have imagined. His six-decade career defies classification. Between 1963 and 1968 Hancock was a member of the second Miles Davis Quintet and later used a pastiche of fusion, funk, and electronics for crossover hits like 1973’s “Chameleon” and 1983 DJ scratch hit “Rockit.” Hancock guested on Fender Rhodes on Stevie Wonder’s “As” as one of the hallmark tracks on 1976’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” Hancock’s 2010 “Imagine Project” included collaborations with Jeff Beck, fellow Chicagoan Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, and others.

Hancock’s sonic crusades remind us that jazz is full of possibilities.

Just like America itself.

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