It’s Thursday, it’s the “Middle of the Week”, A look at Miles Davis: “Birth of the Cool” (album special)

Miles Davis - Birth Of The Cool - Vinyl at OYE Records
(Released the re-edited version on Capitol Records in 1957)

Most of the songs were recorded much earlier, some as far back as 1949, but the title Birth of the Cool came in 1957. So I hope you’re up to hearing some “cool” music, especially Miles’ trumpet which is amazing…always amazing…in this album. Miles was a consummate jazz-man in every aspect. He continually re-invented himself, adapted himself, grew, developed and never stopped. This period is one of his milestones, I would say. Later on he got funky and even psychedelic, but here he is the essence of late 1950’s and 60’s jazz, the jazz I really can get into when I just want to sit back with a nice brandy, a Cuban cigar, and just listen as I look out over the Mediterranean Sea and watch as the sun paints patterns of loveliness over the waters…

We can think of this album as being a true conceptual album in many ways, although the songs were recorded at different times. But Miles, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan would hang out with the rest of the lads at Evans’ basement flat in Manhattan. There they thought of new ways to play, new pairing of instruments and the new sound, which was certainly a departure from bebop. The key was more instrumentation than arranging and the way it would be carried out by the nine man band, which played alto sax, trumpet, a rhythm section plus a baritone sax, trombone, French horn and a tuba.

Miles Davis' Birth of The Cool: Origins of the Cool Jazz Movement article @  All About Jazz
(rehearsals and practice sessions)

.Birth of the Cool was a smash with the critics. It was, and is, considered a seminal album in modern jazz, the coolness of cool and a great influence in bop.

Birth of the Cool - Wikipedia

Miles Davis was twenty two years old when he got this group of young New York based jazz-men and began to re-construct the dialogue of be-bop with new forms and with different ways of improvisation. This was his first recording session as a band leader and he really proved he could lead, innovate, develop and participate in the progression of jazz.

The record was recorded in three sessions beginning on January 21 and on April 22, 1949, and then on March 09,1950, at WMGM studios in the Big Apple (NYC). Birth of the Cool was produced by Pete Rugolo and Walter Rivers, and the sound engineer was W.O.Summerlin, for the January 21 session and Clair Keeps for the other two.

Cover photo was by Aram Avakian.

KIND OF BLUE. MILES DAVIS
(Miles Davis, 1926-1991)

Musicians:

Miles Davis – trumpet
Kai Winding o J.J. Johnson – trombone
Junior Collins, Sandy Siegelstein o Gunther Schuller – French horn
John Barber – tuba
Gerry Mulligan – baritone sax
Lee Konitz – alto sax
John Lewis, Al Haig – piano
Joe Shulman, Nelson Boyd, Al McKibbon – bass
Max Roach o Kenny Clarke – drums
Kenny Hagood – singer on “Darn that Dream”

List of songs:

  1. «Move» (Best) – 2:33 – arr.: J. Lewis
  2. «Jeru» (Mulligan) – 3:13 – arr.: G.Mulligan/M.Davis
  3. «Moon dreams» (McGregor-Mercer) – 3:19 – arr.: Gil Evans
  4. «Venus de Milo» (Mulligan) – 3:13 – arr.: G.Mulligan
  5. «Budo» (Davis-Powell) – 2:34 – arr.: M.Davis
  6. «Deception» (Davis) – 2:49 – arr.: M.Davis
  7. «God child» (Wallington) – 3:11 – arr.: G. Mulligan
  8. «Boplicity» (Henry) – 3:00 – arr.: Gil Evans
  9. «Rocker» (Mulligan) – 3:06 – arr.: G. Mulligan
  10. «Israel» (Carisi) – 2:18 – arr.: J. Carisi
  11. «Rouge» (Lewis) – 3:15 – arr.: J. Lewis
  12. “Darn that Dream” (De Lange-Van Heusen, arr. by G. Mulligan) was not included in the 1954 and 1957 editions. It was added in the editions created after 1971, except in the Capitol-Movieplay editions released only in Europe in 1972).

Well, this is one of my favourite jazz recordings. It may sound a little old fashion now but it remains an album that marked a definite pivot in Jazz and it still sounds ultra cool. Hope you enjoy it.

So tell me what you think…

CHEERS!

31 comments

  1. Sheree · 12 Days Ago

    Excellent choice

  2. hotfox63 · 12 Days Ago

    Sure, Miles Davis was undisputedly a innovative and style-setting musican. And a pop icon. But it would have been nice, if he had worked a little more on his trumpet playing. Then maybe he could have done without many of his antics.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

      Hmm…interesting perspective. I’ve always enjoyed his playing but…

      • hotfox63 · 12 Days Ago

        His strength was the listener-effective staging. For that he is loved. That’s okay, but don’t forget the great musicians behind his success. If you want to express it critically: He was a good seller.

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

        I’ll agree he had great musicians behind him, no doubt the sign of a good leader…

      • hotfox63 · 12 Days Ago

        I saw him once in Montreux in the 1980s. At that time he was already loney at the top. Manager music.

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

        Must have been something! I never saw him but would have liked to…

  3. beth · 12 Days Ago

    i love miles!

  4. Brad Osborne · 12 Days Ago

    A great innovator and gifted musician. Few people have had the impact on music in general, much less his promotion of jazz as an art form. One of the greatest, without a doubt!

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

      Yes! Absolutely! A great trumpet, a great arranger and a fantastic innovator. Smashing musician all around and this album is one of my favourites, although most of the other ones I like just as much…
      All the best my friend and thank you!
      FBC.

  5. topoet · 12 Days Ago

    coincidentally I’m actually listened to this Lp this week! This is a great introduction Lp to Davis as well. Some hear Bitch’s Brew first & think – not for me 🙂 btw I love Bitch’s Brew too. Davis constantly expanded jazz horizons

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

      Yes, that is so true and one of the things I really admire about Miles, he never got old, he continually re-invented himself and experimented with new styles as they developed. “Birth of the Cool” is a great introduction to Miles as well, I quite agree because here you can hear his playing melodies and different passages than in “Bitches Brew” for example. an album that I like a lot as well. Thank you so much my friend, greetings from Valencia and all the best,
      FBC.

  6. #the novel reader · 12 Days Ago

    sounds like it was great band at that time and the music was lao popular

  7. ourcrossings · 12 Days Ago

    This reminds me that I have to find the time to watch Miles David Birth of the Cool while its still on Netflix. Apparently it’s a fantastic documentary that looks at the many sides of the innovative trumpeter and bandleader. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

      Yes, I must remember that as well. Thanks for the reminder Aiva and I am glad you liked it. Take good care and all the best to you,
      FBC

  8. azurea20 · 12 Days Ago

    Me parece una opción estupenda para comenzar la tarde. Amo Miles Davis.
    Un saludo.

  9. Easymalc · 12 Days Ago

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Miles Davis was an excellent exponent of his art. To me, for what it’s worth, I love to watch jazz rather than listen to it. Gone are the days (some will say thank goodness) when a smoky jazz den in somewhere like Paris or New York was a real life experience that probably will never be repeated – but Miles Davis belongs to that era for me. Great artist, especially when he’s playing that trumpet.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

      I could not agree more Malc. I remember going to the Village Vanguard or the Blue Note in Manhattan, in the days when you could smoke in the bars…and I smoked as well…and that ambience, that was part of the whole jazz experience, for sure. Miles I never saw, but I did see Elvin Jones, Nina Simone and a few lesser known ones. Actually in Miami I remember a little jazz club my wife and I used to go, but it disappeared…those were the days. Here in Valencia we had a jazz club two doors from our building, but it closed on 14 MAR 2020 and has never opened again, probably never will. They had some pretty good performers there from the US, from Argentina and from Sweden…
      Take good care Malc and all the best to you,
      FBC.

      • Easymalc · 12 Days Ago

        The one good thing about getting older F is the memories. Thanks for another great post. Enjoy the rest of your week.
        ATB
        Malc

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 12 Days Ago

        You’re right about that Malc! The older I get the better I was…

  10. Herman · 11 Days Ago

    This is definitely one of the best jazz albums for me, although some people may think otherwise. I’m enjoying it every time I play it.

  11. cincinnatibabyhead · 6 Days Ago

    What a great record. I think I’ll take you up on that Cuban and sit outside this weekend with this music. Never gets old fashioned with me Francisco. Great stuff. I have it playing right now and Yeah, it sounds so good. What a line up. I cant keep all the musicians I know straight. I heard a drum bit on the first cut and looked at who was on the album. Two of the best inn the biz.

  12. Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 6 Days Ago

    Enjoy it my friend, it’s great music!

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