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Birth of the Cool

4.6 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Vinyl (March 26, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ermitage Lp
  • ASIN: B00BSTVJ16
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,881,446 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
"Birth of the Cool" was where Miles Davis made his first mark in jazz. Possibly the most influential jazz artist of all-time, Miles was on the forefront of the music for several decades, essentially steering its path during that time, and with the landmark recordings that make up this CD, Miles Davis (as well as Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans, who deserve just as much credit) gives birth to "cool" jazz. Though it has had a few detractors who've dismissed it as 'boring' and 'bland,' a majority of listeners are really taken by what Davis & Co. have accomplished here. That nonet only recorded 12 pieces in the studio, and the whole dozen have been collected in this remarkable compilation.
Davis's lyrical, anti-virtuoso trumpet finds a beautiful soulmate in Gerry Mulligan's baritone sax (who also had a huge hand in writing much of the material as well). The recordings are most famous for the arrangements Evans, Mulligan, and a few others have given the music; elegant and sophisticated, it charts new territory in "big band" music, something that would ultimately lead to the quasi-orchestral music produced by Davis and Evans in the late 50's and early 60's.
A few years ago, it was thought that the definitive version of "Birth of the Cool" was released on a CD titled "The Complete Birth of the Cool," a remastered disc that also contained live radio performances of the music. However, recently, famed recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder discovered the original master tapes that were used for the original 78's (all 12 tracks were initially released as 78's; they weren't compiled on to an album until several years later). As it turned out, every Lp and CD of the album since then were made from Lp masters that were essentially safety copies.
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Format: Audio CD
This album not only put Miles Davis on the map, it started a whole new style of jazz music. Miles worked with Gil Evans on this 1949 project and the results were pure magic. The supporting cast of musicians are a nice group too. He even had french horn players (Junior Collins on one session, Sandy Goldstein on another and Gunther Schuller). Most of the musicians Miles worked with on this album were white, because those were the only people he could get hired at the time. Of these musicians, Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), Lee Konitz (alto saxophone) and Kai Winding (trombone) all shine the most. Tracks like "Move" showcase the band's chemistry and innovative, playful harmonies. This song was originally recorded as a bebop tune, but Miles and company give it a little bit more of a cool, swinging style. "Jeru" is the ultimate definition of cool jazz. This Gerry Mulligan composition shows off Miles and Gerry's soloing abilities. It also has a nice theme and some good ensemble playing. "Moon Dreams" is kind of like a musical "still life", this ballad is played with a slow seriousness that makes it a classic. The ensemble playing here is beautiful. "Venus De Milo" is another Mulligan composition and has a somewhat laid-back latin feel. I like this tune because it just sounds nice to sit back and listen to. "Budo" is a classic Bud Powell tune, while this track only lasts about two and a half minutes, it's a classic instantly. The ensemble playing is very energetic and Miles, Lee Konitz and Kai Winding all take great solos. This tune was also recorded by Miles around the time of the 'Round About Midnight sessions. "Deception" is a track that Miles is given credit for writing but it's really another track called "Conception", that Miles recorded later on in the Dig session of 1951.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
In his professional life, Miles Davis was an agent of change and a permanent self critic. Also, he would always surround himself of the best possible musicians (he said, "I'm hiring a [musician] to play, not for what color he is") to help in materializing his musical vision. Leaving behind the enviable position of musical director of Charlie Parker's group, Miles assembled a nonet (several of its members coming from the ranks of Claude Thornhill's Orchestra), Gerry Mulligan and John Lewis among them, and with their help gave birth to the new sound in jazz at the time: the Cool, an attempt to sound like a big band with a significantly smaller ensemble (a nonet, in this case), by means of a collective writing approach.
The album, recorded throughout three sessions between January of 1949 and March of 1950, marked the beginning of a series of outstanding works of Miles along with musical mentor and genius arranger Gil Evans. Its slower and softer sound resonated throughout the jazz world, taking jazz to a new level and influencing musicians all over the place, mostly in California it would help give shape to a mellow sound that would later be called West Coast Jazz (Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, etc.)
It is hard to pick favorite tracks in such a brilliant production. Four different arrangers and a rich assortment of composers, from Davis and Evans, to Mulligan, Lewis, Bud Powell and several others, along with the assorted lineup of musicians (only Davis in trumpet and lead, Mulligan in baritone, Lee Konitz in alto, and John Barber in Tuba were part of all three recording sessions) allow the careful listener to see tunes from a number of different points of view.
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