Friday, February 10, 2006

The Birth of the Cool

Allow me the opportunity to bypass the normal movie post for a Friday and share this clip of a legendary musical performance recorded live in 1958 of Miles Davis and the band he gathered for his album "Kind of Blue". The tune here is "So What".

This album, along with the one preceeding it, "The Birth of the Cool", are classics in jazz and rock, and "Kind of Blue" still sellls thousands of copies each month, more than 50 years after it's release. This video shows why - it is Cool incarnate.

Miles brought John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers and Bill Cobb together for sessions that still impress the most casual listener. They all stand and wait for each moment to step into the tune with their talents. No color picture could capture the Cool here. It needs black and white photography. And I love the way Miles hangs back smoking when he isn't wailing on that trumpet, stabbing notes into the song, and that shot at the end, when he finishes his last notes and then casually walks off smoking again.

No wonder that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be inducting Miles this March - Cool starts with Miles and spreads across the rest of the music industry throughout the 20th century.

If you've never dipped into the music before, you're in for an amazing journey. If you have, you'll enjoy the video above.


  1. Tim Smasken10:41 AM

    I freakin love Miles! I have become somewhat of a classic jazz freak in the past decade. Gimme Miles, Brubeck, Guarladi, Getz, Gilberto, Simone, and Ella any day.

  2. Sooo Cooool! Man I love jazz!
    best regards

  3. We need a good jazz club in Tellico Plains..
    maybe next to the Hatchery??

  4. Sande -
    what about that wacky jazz player with the comb-over who plays in the restaraunt down by the river??

    i suppose it is up to you now to create a be-bop zone in the Smokies!!

  5. Miles Davis is the man I listen to when I need confirmation that life, even at its worst, is worth living.

  6. This tune seems so simple and yet is so complex and layered and rich. I was truly overjoyed to find this live performance of honest-to-pete geniuses at work.

  7. Jonathan11:53 AM

    Thanks for the unedited clip. I'll be e-mailing it to myself now...

  8. Most welcome, Jonathon.
    You can find some choice performances (along with many weird cell phone oddities from around the world) at

  9. Anonymous11:19 PM

    Amen of course on the two Miles picks.

    BTW, I think your site meter is broken; maybe old site name.

  10. Wintermute -
    The site feed now at the top of the sidebar of links here seems to work ok on this end, though if you use the Internet Explorer browser, the feed link will not include pics and hot links.
    But I'll work on that asap.

  11. Man, oh man.

    I recall very vividly being a wee tot playing on the floor while my Dad was grading papers at the dining room table and the public radio station was playing jazz. "So What" came on, and my Dad yelled, "OH!" and jumped up from the table to go turn up the volume. He pointed excitedly at the radio and said, "Tits! Listen to this! This is the most important piece of music ever recorded!"

    He was right. And, thanks to you, my daughter just got to watch the most important piece of music ever recorded.

  12. Thanks for stopping by, Tits.

    Heh heh.