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Miles Davis - Birth of The Cool CD (album) cover


Miles Davis


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.12 | 70 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars If you're a fan of Jazz Rock/Fusion but have never really explored the realm of Jazz itself because it seems way too old-fashioned and ancient to your ears then perhaps it's because you've never heard Miles Davis. If what really intrigues you about The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever and Weather Report is the complexity of how those unbridled, flying notes fit together in some magical way without your really having to understand all the "theory" behind it all then you'll probably dig Miles Davis. If you want to go back to the tail end of the 40s and the first months of the 50s when fearless jazz musicians were starting to change all the established rules, push the envelope of what was "acceptable" and knock down locked doors then "Birth of the Cool" is a great place to begin. A "birth," indeed!

Now, I'm no expert on modern jazz. Far from it. The closest I ever came to being in the presence of seriously dedicated jazz musicians was when I was lucky enough to draw the famous One O'clock Lab Band as my beat for the campus newspaper while attending The University of North Texas in the early 70s. (My job was to sit and listen to them rehearse. Tough assignment, I know!) But I know what I like and I've learned over the years that greatness has no age limits or boundaries. This incredibly talented nonet that Miles put together made music that moves and breathes on its own like some new organism that sprang up spontaneously from all the elements of the earth. If the opening track, "Move," doesn't make you stop what you're doing to listen in wide-eyed wonder to what these nine guys are creating and mixing together then you might as well give the album away. And don't be ashamed if that happens. These challenging multi-horn, piano, upright bass and drumkit arrangements ain't for everybody. The tunes are short by prog standards but they come off more as movements in a symphony than as individual pieces. There's also a real paradox going on here because, while the music is certainly difficult and complicated, there's a sense that the musicians are having the most relaxing, joyful time of their lives because they're finally getting to play what they want to play.

So if you think that music in the mid 20th century was all Glenn Miller, Doo Wop and Elvis then you may want to educate yourself by putting this inside your head. So many of the artists that pioneered the Jazz Rock/Fusion movement either performed with and/or were greatly inspired by Miles Davis that his well-deserved place on this respected progressive music website is a no-brainer. What's really "cool" about this album is that it is truly music for grownups that are still young at heart. It's playful yet it makes you think. A 5 star prog masterpiece from a long, long time ago.

Chicapah | 5/5 |


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