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Miles Davis: Music From And Inspired By Birth Of The Cool, A Film by Stanley Nelson

Doug Collette By

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The most devout fans of the late Miles Davis will likely hear the selections on this album as touchstones of their collections of the jazz icon's work. More casual fans and dilettantes can listen and learn to the same cuts as guideposts to assemble their own. Neither approach undermines the value of the title as a worthwhile companion piece to Stanley Nelson's film.

It's been said a formidable jazz library might be built from works by musicians with whom Davis worked during his multi-decade career and this release substantiates that view. Just take note of two of the more prominent commentators featured in the spoken interludes: Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. But there are also multiple variations on the fundamental theme of the movie, that is the initial formulation of the groundbreaking cool jazz style, as well as a flash-forward in the form of the heretofore unreleased cut with Miles himself (as well as former collaborators percussionist Lenny White and guitarist John Scofield): "Hail to the Real Chief" leads directly to a collection of similarly contemporary vintage, Rubber Band (Rhino, 2019).

Yet neither the concentration compelled by, nor the sense of satisfaction derived from, Birth of the Cool's "Moon Dreams" is arguably any more or less than for the seductive and insistent electrified rhythms of Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), from whence comes the single edit of "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down." This soundtrack doesn't so much beg a fundamental question as pose it in such a way the answer is all too obvious: Miles Davis was the catalyst for multiple paradigm shifts in the world of jazz. Ergo, the the modal majesty of Kind of Blue's (Columbia, 1959) "So What" is as forward thinking in its own way as intricate orchestrations at the heart of this movie soundtrack's source material.

There surely remain more than a few who, in keeping with much of the initial response, don't hold such latter-day records as the Marcus Miller-produced Tutu (Warner Bros., 1986) in comparably high regard. Similarly, it's well to ponder the contemporary influence of On the Corner (Columbia, 1972), curiously overlooked here, especially in relation to that which is the ostensible focus of the director/writer/producer's documentary. Similarly, while absorbing select culls the seamless likes of Sketches of Spain (Columbia, 1960) may leave a listener wanting on Music From and Inspired By..., that fact is such seminal work remains readily available, in its entirety as originally released and in the expanded form of lavish box sets.

Likewise, the fourteen tracks of the twenty-eight total here in the form of commentary may come across as non-sequiturs (and abrupt ones at that given the introduction of each speaker). Notwithstanding the contemporary popularity of vinyl, on which configuration The Complete Birth of the Cool (Blue Note, 2019) found its latest re-issue, after an initial hearing (to refresh the memory or introduce to same), this CD may beg reprogramming to play either all music or all conversation. Either way, those verbal intervals, like the ones of pure music, can readily plant and/or nurture seeds of curiosity and rediscovery, a dual dynamic that is, in fact, at the very heart of the source work that gave birth to Stanley Nelson's cinematic creation.

Track Listing

Commentary: Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath; Milestones; Commentary: Greg Tate; Donna Le; Commentary: Ashley Kahn, Symphony Sid Introduction; Moon Dreams' Commentary: George Wein; ‘Round Midnight; Commentary: Carlos Santana; It Never Entered My Mind; Commentary: Vincent Bessieres; Generique; Commentary: Jimmy Cobb; So What; Commentary: Gil Evans; New Rhumba; Commentary: Frances Taylor Davis; The Pan Piper (Alborada de Vigo); Commentary: Jack Chambers; Someday My Prince Will Come; Commentary: Wayne Shorter; Footprints; Commentary: Carlos Santana, Quincy Troupe; Miles Runs The Voodoo Down; Commentary: Marcus Miller; Tutu; Commentary: Erin Davis ;Hail To The Real Chief.

Personnel

Miles Davis: trumpet, flugelhorn; Johnny Coles: trumpet; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Bernie Glow: lead trumpet; Ernie Royal: trumpet; Louis Mucci: trumpet; Taft Jordan: trumpet; John Carisi: trumpet; Ernie Royal: trumpet; J.J. Johnson: trombone; Frank Rehak: trombone; Jimmy Cleveland: trombone; Joe Bennett: trombone; Dick Hixon: trombone; Tom Mitchell: bass trombone; Albert Bock: flute; Eddie Caine: flute; Gunther Schuller: French horn; John Barrows: French horn; Earl Chapin: French horn; Willie Ruff: French horn; Tony Miranda: French horn; Jim Buffington: French horn; Joe Singer: French horn; Bill Barber: tuba; Jimmy McAllister: tuba; Charlie Parker: alto saxophone; Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Gerry Mulligan: baritone saxophone; John "Cannonball" Adderley: alto saxophone; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Antoine Roney: tenor saxophone; Emilio Modeste: tenor saxophone; Barney Wilen: tenor saxophone; Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone; Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone; ; Danny Bank: bass clarinet; Romeo Penque: flute, oboe, clarinet; Sid Cooper: flute, clarinet; Harold Feldman: clarinet, flute, oboe; Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet; Jack Knitzer: bassoon; Janet Putnam: harp; Joe Zawinul: electric piano; Larry Young: electric piano; Chick Corea: electric piano; Bill Evans: piano; John Lewis: piano; Herbie Hancock: piano; Wynton Kelly: piano; Bud Powell: piano; Rene Urtreger: piano; Red Garland; piano; Bernard Wright: keys; Jason Miles: synthesizer programming; John Scofield: guitar; Quintin Zito: guitar; Ron Carter: double bass; Paul Chambers: double bass; Tommy Potter: bass; Marcus Miller: bass; Dave Holland: bass; Harvey Brooks: bass; Pierre Michelot: bass; Al McKibbon: bass; Juma Santos: percussion; Jose Mangual: percussion; Elvin Jones: percussion; Paulhino da Costa: percussion; Art Taylor: drums; Philly Joe Jones: drums; Max Roach: drums; Kenny Clarke: drums; Jimmy Cobb: drums; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Lenny White: drums; Tony Williams; drums; Billy Hart: drums, bongos; Vince Wilburn Jr.: drums; Gil Evans: arranger and conductor.

Album information

Title: Music From And Inspired By Birth Of The Cool, A Film by Stanley Nelson | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings

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