Birth of the Cool
Birth of the Cool was the start of many things. Recorded in three sessions from 1949 to 1950, it was the beginning of Miles Davis’s recording career, as well as his storied collaboration with arranger Gil Evans. In a broader sense, the album also was the first shot in what was soon called the “cool jazz” or West Coast sound of the ‘50s, which ran contrary to the hot bebop and Latin jazz happening in New York City. As would be the case for decades to come, Davis had excellent taste in sidemen: pianist John Lewis and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan (who both contributed material and arrangements), as well as drummers Max Roach and Kenny Clarke, saxophonist Lee Konitz, French horn player Gunther Schuller, trombonists JJ Johnson and Kai Winding, and others. The sound on classics like “Jeru,” "Israel,” “Move,” and “Moon Dreams” is relaxed and elegant, while maintaining bebop’s emotional focus whenever Davis or one of the other soloists rose above the lush polyphonal shadings. Originally released incrementally on 10” discs, the tunes here didn’t appear as this knowingly titled LP until 1957.