The series of compositions this roof produced over the next two years touched off the “cool Jazz” movement. It also Inspired dozens of musicians that would follow. The “Birth of the Cool” Is unique In that the Individual tracks created In 1948-1949, were not assembled and released In a collective album until the late sass’s. And though it’s been over sixty years since the collective release of the “Birth of the Cool” album, the tracks are still acclaimed as some of the greatest Jazz recordings ever made.
Howard Reich, an author with the Chicago Tribune, states that “Part of the allure of Birth of the Cool” surely owes to the gifts of the Instrumentalists” (Howard A&E). I have to agree with this reviewers statement. The musicians that Davis amassed to help produce the works of the “Birth of the Cool” was a truly remarkable ensemble. They formed a fluidly functioning group, using elements of both the big band and bebop styles- but fully embraced neither. Davit’s expressive, anti-virtuoso trumpet was a wonderful accompaniment to Gerry Mulligan’s baritone sax.
Other musicians rotating wealth the note Included: French horn players, Junior Collins, Sandy Goldstein and Gunter Schuler; drummer Max Roach; pianists John Lewis, Kenny Clarke and AY Hag: bassists AY Mimicking and Joe Sultan; Lee Zionist on alto saxophone; and trombonists J. J. Johnson, Mike Sherwin and Kaki Winding. Singer Kenny Haggard also complemented one track. Nevertheless, It was the Innovative arrangements, Influenced by classical music techniques, which made the “Birth of the Cool” album a success and marked a major development In post-bebop Jazz.
These pioneering compositions were brilliantly created by a collective writing group, with Evans and Gerry Mulligan (Evans protog) eloping to write much of the material. The group kept things short and concise, keeping the focus on the tones and tunes of the tracks. This virtuosity led to elegant, relaxing, stylish mood music as the end result. This was the very thing that came to define West Coast or “cool” Jazz. The repertoire would further go on to chart new territory In “big band” music, eventually leading to the equal-orchestral music produced by Davis and Evans in the late sass’s and early sass.
There are twelve tracks that make up the compilation of the “Birth of the Cool” album. These 12 tracks can be further broken into four groups: The first group imprisoning of two fast tempo pieces; the next grouping comprising of five upbeat pieces; the third grouping of three bluesy feel tracks; and, lastly, the two slow tempo harmonies. 2) “Bud” is short in duration, but is very fast and energetic- Miles, Zionist and Winding all deliver great solo parts. 1) “Jeer” the quintessence of cool Jazz wherein Miles and Gerry show off their soloing abilities playing with precision and confidence. ) “Deception” is a very up- beat piece incorporating the ride cymbals and walking bass with a kind of tension- building theme sequence. It has a great solo from Miles. 3) “Godchild” another up- eat piece has an exciting swing style ambiance. All the lower instruments contribute to it, making it a fun, playful track. Miles and Winding offer nice solos as well. 4) “Rocker” is an up-beat, yet, piano-less piece that utilizes the ride cymbals. Mulligan creates some soft dissonances as the voices move, but it happens so fast that it isn’t disconcerting to the listener. ) “Rouge” is a very fun piece with string bass and a distinct piano solo. 1) “Venus De Mill” has a fairly laid-back Latin feel. This tune was Just nice to sit back and listen to with wonderful melody and harmony. 2) “Publicity” is a stressful arrangement that seems vaster than nine musicians. Mulligan starts with a great sax solo and Miles leads in with the group and then heads into playing a fine solo. 3) “Israel” is very powerful in structure and composition. This song blends the traditional blues with modern harmony (some of the chords are dissonant clusters) and counterpoint.
There is a trumpet solo by Davis. 1) “Moon Dreams” is a ballad played with a slow solemnity that makes it a classic. The ensemble playing of this piece is beautiful. 2) Kenny Highroad’s vocal feature titled “Darn That Dream. ” This piece has a slow tempo, accompanied by a piano laying in the background throughout the song. In the middle composition is an outstanding solo by Miles. It is hard to pick a favorite track in such a brilliant production. However, one particular piece- “Move”- hangs in my mind as it has the unique feature of paired instrumentation.
In “Move” melody is provided with the pairing of alto saxophone and trumpet; the baritone saxophone and tuba supply counterpoint; and the trombone and French horn deliver harmonies. Move reflects the band’s chemistry and the arrangement is very innovative. It is an arrangement that could naturally carry solos and Miles, Zionist and Roach deliver them well. Another mentionable piece is “Bud. ” Though this album is commonly viewed as a departure from traditional bop, a few of the tracks, to include “Bud” do feature tunes that are considered close to the bop style. Bud” takes the classic bebop tune and plays it cool. “Bud” also has the band bookbinding solos by Davis, Mulligan, Zionist, and Winding, which is similar to a bebop head arrangement. Throughout time, “Birth of Cool” has had a few detractors who’ve dismissed it as ‘boring’ and ‘bland. ‘ However, in my research, the majority of listeners have really been taken by what Davis and his note accomplished. Howard Reich wrote: “Birth explosive, sass bebop to sass cool” (Howard A;E).