Regarding "Cool and Collected," I must first say that it is very aptly named. It is indeed quite cool, and it also incredibly collected. I happen to love the music of Miles Davis, so it would be virtually impossible for me to speak negatively of a CD collection that compiles a handful of his best-known performances. For the same reason, it is almost impossible to blindly endorse a product that reduces such diversity to a single disk. Observing the changes of Davis' career over the decades has been one of the most musically rewarding experiences I could expect from any musician. His diversity is immensely important to understanding his style - his `coolness' - and the only way to really understand why Miles is so important as a trendsetter, a leader and performer of huge significance is to understand the various aspects of his career.
On an extraordinarily superficial level, this CD is quite cool. If you really want to understand the depths of its coolness, though, you have to dig a lot deeper. Each and every recording on "Cool and Collected" is excellent; naturally, though, some are more significant than others. "So What" is both accessible and challenging. It deserves a rating of 7 stars in a 5-star system, and "Stella By Starlight" represents the smallest taste of live Miles, with some of the best musicians in the world. His version of "Human Nature" can still spark a debate about its intrinsic value, but regardless of your take, it is still decidedly `cool'. But is it cooler to own this collection or to own both "Kind of Blue," "Live at the Plugged Nickel" and "You're Under Arrest" instead? Is it cool being unfamiliar with "In a Silent Way" or "Bitches Brew"?
My point is that there is no shortcut to being `cool.' To qualify, you have to pay a few dues, and invest a part of your time to understand the nature of something that is universally accepted as `cool'. If you are a neophyte and need a starting place to discover the music of Miles Davis, then this is a cool place to start, but its value will diminish once you really understand the incredibly diverse nature of Miles Davis. A- Tom Ryan