Since the late 1940s, the term "cool jazz" has been used to describe post-swing jazz that is played with subtlety and restraint rather than aggression. One could argue that "cool jazz" started when Lester Young presented a soft, relaxed alternative to Coleman Hawkins-and to be sure, the seminal Prez was the blueprint for Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Paul Quinichette and many others in the "Cool School." If Prez had played "cool swing," one of the most important moments in the history of "cool bebop" came when Miles Davis recorded his landmark Birth Of The Cool
studio sessions of 1949-1950-all of which are included in this reissue.
In the U.S., Birth Of The Cool was first reissued on CD in 1989-what sets this 1998 version apart is the addition of live performances by the trumpeter's "cool" nonet of 1948 (all recorded at New York's Royal Roost). Compare the live and studio versions of "Move," "Godchild" and "Darn That Dream" to the hot-blooded bebop that Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie had been providing, and you'll see the difference-Davis and sidemen like Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax) and Lee Konitz (alto sax) were still playing bebop changes, but with a lot more restraint than one had come to expect from "modern jazz" (as it was called).
Like Kind Of Blue with modal post-bop and Bitches Brew with fusion, these sessions proved to be among the most influential in the history of jazz-a fact that recordings by Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and others bear out. This outstanding music is essential listening. Period.