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4.0 out of 5 stars The Birth Of The Cool: Miles Davis - Historically important recordings from some of Jazz's finest, 19 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Complete Birth Of The Cool (Audio CD)
Back in 1949/50, Miles Davis and eight friends recorded 3 sessions. The results were released as singles, then collected together and released in 1957 as `Birth Of The Cool' under the name of Miles Davis. But the other names in the group should not be overlooked, they read like a who's who of 50's and 60's cool and freeform jazz, with people like Gerry Mulligan, Max Roach and Gil Evans all making important contributions.

Davis had just finished a turbulent period as a sideman to Charlie Parker, where he seems to have felt restricted and out of place. The aim of these recordings appears to have been to allow each musician and arranger to express themselves fully and comfortably in a relaxed atmosphere.

Stylistically this was a move away from the bebop that most of the group had recorded previously, and truly was the start of the `Cool' hard bop movement that moved away from the frenetic phrasings of bebop and gave way to longer, more complex pieces with experimentations in rhythm, sometimes dissonance and interesting interactions between the group members. But the key word seems to be `relaxed'.

Still limited to the three minute single format there isn't quite the room for each member to stretch out as there would be when Miles embraced the LP format. This is a bit of a shame given the number of musicians involved, and the odd range of instruments played (not many jazz tracks featured tuba or French horn since the early days of Armstrong's hot fives and sevens), but this is still an impressive album that really lays down the vision that Miles had for his musical future, and delivers 11 tracks of inventive, interesting and gripping cool jazz. I say 11 tracks because the sole vocal track (the album closer `Darn That Dream') is, for me, a real dud that should have been left out as it is totally at odds with the mood of the rest of the album.

Greater things were to come in the form of `Kind Of Blue' and `In a Silent Way', where Miles had the longer time on record to really stretch out and sublimate his musical vision, but this is still pretty strong stuff. It is also an important document in the history of Jazz, as it lays down the foundations for the biggest movement of the latter part of the twentieth century. 4 stars.
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Reviewer

Victor
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Location: Hull, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 18