Thanks to Dispatches from The Culture Wars for the link. I can’t imagine Miles Davis being on someone’s second tier. If Miles is on your second tier, your tiers are broken.
Incidentally Davis’ trumpet has a “tinny” sound because of his trademark Harmon mute; when he played without the mute, he had an unusually robust sound to his trumpet. The very affordable collection Miles Davis: Ballads has some very nice open-trumpet ballads; “I Waited for You” is particularly beautiful. I very much enjoy muted trumpet—and Harmon mute much more than a silly-sounding plunger mute—but if you like the open trumpet sound, check out Chet Baker. Baker was sort of the white version of Miles Davis; his music has the same quiet, contemplative feeling as Davis’ best—one critic said it had an “almost oppressive sense of melancholy,” which appeals to my malevolent universe premise. Baker also sang, with a haunting, almost soulless voice, perfect for dark, rainy nights. Check out The Ultimate Chet Baker Collection and My Funny Valentine. Beautiful.
As for Wynton Marsalis, the only Marsalis I’ve listened to—other than his entertaining appearances on Ken Burns’ Jazz—is Marsalis Standard Time vol. 1, which I did indeed find to be “technically great, but soulless and mechanical.” With the exception of “Caravan,” the album was entirely forgettable. But it’s not fair to judge an artist’s career on a single album—heaven forbid people judge Miles on, say, The Man With The Horn or something.