Saturday, October 20, 2007

1001 Albums – Number 12

Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool

Miles Davis is one of those legendary names that has so much respect attached to it that you just assume that he must be as good as everyone says he is. After enjoying Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington as much as I did I was quite surprised to find that I didn't rate this album much at all.

On Birth of the Cool Davis has assembled a large (nine piece) jazz ensemble, with his trumpet taking the lead role, and they play music that reminds me a little of Ellington's Live at Newport album, but a lot busier and more upbeat. My main complaint is that it lacks the almost classical compositional elegance of The Duke.

As implied by the title this album represents one of the starting points of 'cool' jazz, a laid back and accessible reaction to the aggressive and complex bebop movement. Me, I like my music aggressive and complex so it's really no surprise that this leaves me cold while Thelonious Monk blew my fucking ears off with awesomeness. It's by no means bad, but I'm so far removed from it's target audience that it's almost unfair for me to judge it. Plus the infectious peppyness of it all can't help but bring to my mind the dread thought of cool jazz's nightmarish spawn, smooth jazz...

Next up, more African music with Machito.

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