And The Cool is Born

Cool mean fresh and refreshing but also, of course, relaxed. To someone who is getting upset, you say, 'Keep Cool'. In the late 1940s white jazz musicians began to interpret Charlie Parker's jazz in a new, 'cool' way - and the name stuck. But, paradoxically, the beginnings of cool are attributed to the boldest of the black musicians, Miles Davis.
Indeed, his 1949 recordings for Capitol Records are so significant in this regard that later reissues were grouped under the title Birth Of The Cool.

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Miles Davis in a 1940s Recording Session

Compared to Dizzy Gillespie, the other all-star trumpet player of the period, Miles Davis lacked both virtuosity and a brilliant tone. Yes he created a sober, airy, reflective style all his own, featuring a quiet resonance, avoiding high notes and favouring the medium register. 'Keep cool!' he seemed to say to Dizzy Gillespie's velocity, mimicking the message Lester Young seemed to convey to the impetuous Coleman Hawkins. But he was not satisfied with the rapid unison phrases and the unbridled solos that characterized bebop.

In 1948, when Davis formed an ensemble, he tried something new, instead of the usual bebop quintet, he formed a nine-piece band, a nonet.

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Miles Davis Nine Piece band (nonet) in a 1940s Recording Session

And there he called on arrangers Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan. The band featured Davis' trumpet - along with two saxophones, a trombone, a rhythm section, and two instruments rarely used in jazz until then, a French horn and a tuba. (The tuba had been used in rhythm section of the first jazz ensembles in New Orleans, but had been largely replaced by the string bass by this time.)


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