It was the 1950s. Given that technology was not at all advanced at the time, most musicians did not seem confident about the music that they made. You were either naturally good at music or just had no chance whatsoever at success. Rock and roll had just started but was seen as a moneymaker, not an artistic genre. Other forms of music existed as well. Jazz was one of them.
Enter Miles Davis. A man of committed ideas and processes, he became the greatest jazz musician of his time, and possibly the greatest of all the jazz masters. He worked in various bands before he began creating his own music. This album, Birth Of The Cool, is the beginning of an amazing career. It lasted several decades for Miles Davis.
The Birth Of The Cool rewrote the history books on what jazz could do. Is it as great as it was received? Let’s find out.
Move goes quickly from the start. It’s a great way to begin this album, and the different instrumentation nails everything 100%. No mistakes here whatsoever. Miles Davis proves himself as a worthy composer and man who knows jazz music very well. The drum rolls from the drummer here are superb. It’s short and excellent.
Jeru is more midtempo. It’s not boring at all though, everything here is melodic and well set up for the listener to enjoy. It would be difficult to imagine many Rap music artists today creating such original and wonderful music such as the pieces on this album. There is a sort of synchronised groove here, interlocking with the diverse melodies. Very nice indeed. Mellow, danceable, and thoroughly enjoyable.
The image evoking Moon Dreams is next. A very slow, but wonderful sounding piece is here. If you can close your eyes and enjoy this music, then this is a good way to immerse yourself into the sounds at hand. Original melodies are here, but slow here is not dull in aspect. There is not such a moment here, and the build-up and release of the horn melodies are brilliant. It ends softly and gently.
The next track Venus De Milo arrives next. It’s a bit more uptempo but has a decent rhythm section to boot. Some jazz music is very blah. This is not, it is logically thought out and consistent. The trumpet here sounds amazing after all these years, remastered or otherwise. A truly enjoyable listen, transcending time, and music culture itself.
Budo has a real sense of urgency in its main wind section melodies. It’s enough to make you want to get up and dance. A more uptempo and precise number with its direction of melody, who says that jazz is boring? At least not here, the recording here is excellent. The nimble double bass playing is superb, Paul McCartney may have taken note here of such excellence musically. Saxophones and trumpets collide here to our delight.
Deception is not deceivingly bad to our ears. It’s a more riff-oriented, melodic piece. Many different time signatures and excellent playing abound on this album. For those who find Rock music boring, check out Miles Davis and see if you can enjoy it. Oh yeah, the pieces here on this album are all around 2-3 minutes long. Never a dull moment on this recording. Some subtle horn solo work is done excellently here.
Next is Godchild. It is a horn-heavy piece that breaks into an irresistible groove. Jazz music may not be as popular today as it once was, yet no listener can deny the wonderful beauty of Miles Davis upon listening. This is seriously good Jazz music right here. A nice cut from Miles Davis, once again.
Following that is Boplicity. Very much true to the title, it is Miles Davis doing what he does best, take a musical idea, and letting it flourish. This number is a little more downtempo but is not boring to those listening.
Rocker is a midtempo number once again expertly played. Jazz music tells great stories to those who listen to it, this being no exception. Although this music is entirely instrumental, it is still a clever and calculated listen. Great to hear, even several decades on. Multiple horns and background piano will take you by surprise, great stuff here.
Israel is another great midtempo number for those who love Jazz. No meaning towards the country whatsoever, it is another perfectly well done and excellently played Jazz piece, back in the days when overdubs were a luxury. Quality, not quantity, is key here. Very very good. The ending is surprising.
The last piece Rouge ends the album nicely. It’s a smooth and danceable track from an era bygone. Still, a must-listen here. The piano is skilled and very fantastically played. These guys sound as though they practiced non-stop, and it comes out wonderfully. Trumpets flutter with precision, and the rest of the group joins in perfectly. Brilliant stuff.
The verdict here is that this is a great Jazz album. Strangely enough, it is often not even seen as Miles Davis’s best album. Regardless, this is a fantastic way for Miles Davis to begin his accomplished career and a must-have addition for your collection of music today. There is a documentary available on Netflix about this album as well if you are interested in watching it.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey