The Birth of the Cool was a milestone in modern jazz—a handful of arrangements, compositions, recording sessions, and performances that, as historian Ted Gioia notes, “turned the jazz idiom on its head.” It extended the idea of what a jazz combo could sound like, and it provided an aesthetic head of steam for several of its creators. Recorded at the end of the 1940s by a group led by Miles Davis, these sides were obscure at first, released on 78s and known primarily to musicians, but they had a profound impact, influencing the West Coast jazz school and the later popular big-band projects that Davis recorded with Birth of the Cool colleague Gil Evans.
The Birth of the Cool Songbook features recordings by other artists of the music used for the Birth of the Cool recording sessions, including Martha Tilton’s 1942 version of “Moon Dreams” (co-written by Johnny Mercer and Glenn Miller pianist Chummy MacGregor), a roaring live take on “Move” from a superstar bebop band led by Charlie Parker, an early-1950s Claude Thornhill band interpretation of Gerry Mulligan’s “Jeru,” and Bud Powell’s solo-piano “Budo” (aka “Hallucinations”) tour de force. We’ll also hear recordings from Elliot Lawrence, Red Norvo, Bill Evans, Mark Murphy, Ahmad Jamal, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Gerry Mulligan.
The Birth of the Cool Songbook airs this evening at 9 p.m. Central Time on WNIN-Evansville, at 11 p.m. EST on WFIU-Bloomington, and at 11 p.m. Central Time on Oklahoma Public Radio; it also airs Sunday evening at 10 p.m. EST on Michigan's Blue Lake Public Radio. It will be posted for online listening Monday morning in the Night Lights archives.
Next week: "Dolphy '64."
Edited by ghost of miles, 13 April 2010 - 11:45 AM.