The "Birth of the Cool" sessions, as they came to be known, grew out of an informal series of gatherings in the dingy 55th st (Manhattan) apartment of arranger and unsung jazz hero Gil Evans, between 1948 and 1950. Miles Davis had come to New York to study trumpet at Julliard, but he found it much more rewarding to play at the 52nd St. jazz clubs till late at night, then head on over to Gil's to play with the likes of saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, John Carisi, and the musically adventurous Gunther Schuller, an opera musician who also loved to mix classical ideas in with jazz, and who would arrange some of Miles Davis' biggest hits. Gil Evans, a mediocre pianist and former arranger for Claude Thornhill, was the musical director of the nonet that emerged from the first exchanges of ideas. The nonet, "Miles Davis and His Orchestra", played a few gigs in 1948, opening for Count Basie, but was rejected by the public. The music played in these sessions, and the "cool jazz" that followed, was a reaction against the overly virtuosic bebop styles of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and marked the return of the arranger and the composer to the jazz spotlight. And these composers weren't just sticking to the old forms, either. They broke the rules set by Henderson, Basie, and Armstrong. The rhythm section was understated, the music was full of rich, thick textures and dark sonorities, and the emphasis was back on cooperation (versus bebop, where solos dominated). Arrangers started to explore the timbral possibilities of combining many different instruments (like Fletcher Henderson), but added oboes, bassoons, and more to the mix. Instruments that had previously been relegated to the rhythm section, such as the tuba, were now being tried out as bearers of the melody.

An extremely influential Jazz album recorded in three sessions by three incarnations of the Miles Davis Nonet. Generally regarded (as the title suggests) to be the "birth" of Cool Jazz, the album mixed the intricate tonalities of bebop with lucid, tightly-focused arranging and a laid-back atmosphere. The instrumentation, which was chosen to imitate the broad textural and coloristic palette of a large orchestra while keeping the group small enough to retain the freshness of improvised jazz, still remains unusual for a jazz setting: tuba, french horn, trombone, baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass, and drums. However, the musicians that took part in the sessions were all top-notch. Like most music considered "ahead of its time," the critics and musicians who listened were generally enthused, however, the public's initial reaction to the Nonet's performances was mixed at best.

Session one took place on January 21, 1949 in New York City. The songs Move, Jeru, Budo, and Godchild were recorded by a band consisting of:

Session two took place on April 22, 1949, in New York City. The songs Venus de Milo, Boplicity, Israel, and Rouge were recorded and the band lineup changed as follows:

Session three was recorded on March 9, 1950, again in New York City. The songs were Moon Dreams, Deception, Rocker, and Darn That Dream. The musicians were:

Miles Davis
Birth of the Cool
Capitol Records/Capitol Jazz

  1. Move (2:32) (Denzil Best)
  2. Jeru (3:10) (Gerry Mulligan)
  3. Moon Dreams (3:17) (Chummy MacGregor-Johnny Mercer)
  4. Venus De Milo (3:17) (Gerry Mulligan)
  5. Budo (2:32) (Bud Powell-Miles Davis)
  6. Deception (2:54) (Miles Davis)
  7. Godchild (3:07) (George Wallington)
  8. Boplicity (2:59) (Cleo Henry)
  9. Rocker (3:03) (Gerry Mulligan)
  10. Israel (2:15) (Johnny Carisi)
  11. Rouge (3:13) (John Lewis)
  12. Darn That Dream(3:26) (Delange-Van Heusen)

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