Having been introduced to the iconic “Ascenseur pour l’échafaud” I finally “got” Miles Davis and the significance of “Cool”. A historically important departure from swing-derived rythmically-driven Bop, to a very different place and temperature. ( Remember, I am still new to jazz!)
I had been looking out for an original copy of the seminal recording “Birth of Cool”, when one turned up in the sale of a large collection of Miles work. Obviously the hoard of a “completist” who had gone to a better place – perhaps to chat with Miles “personally”, poor fellow (Miles, that is). I left the bidding war over the original copy of “Kind of Blue” to others, having already secured a copy a while back. Three desirable titles came my way, among them this original pressing UK first release of ” The Birth of Cool”.
Knowing very little about it other than the name of the record and its classic cover, the recordings, from around 1948 – the year I was born – came as something of a shock. The recording itself is “boxy” and thin, as is typical of the period. I expected to find a “Blue Revolution”, replete with moody atmosphere and cigarette smoke against a midnight New York night skyline. Instead I found something very different: 1940’s Big Band orchestras, Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax, somewhere a tuba and trombone, all romping along, nothing “cool” about it at all, apart from Miles occasional plaintive wailings.
Being no scholar of Jazz – merely a listener – I was grateful to have a historically important recording in a pressing from the mid fifties, albeit the UK first release. Slowly making the connection, only time will tell when it finds its rightful place. But it’s alway good to have “an original”. They are not making the past any more.
Give us a break, I was in short pants in 2011! I knew nothing!