Tuesday, September 24, 2013



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The three sessions recorded by Capitol Records in New York in 1949 and 1950 under the leadership of Miles Davis have received widespread coverage in the print media in the sixty plus years since they were recorded.  The sessions have collectively been christened “The Birth of the Cool” sessions ever since the 1957 Capitol Records 12” LP release, T-762, BIRTH OF THE COOL, introduced that phrase to describe the twelve tunes captured in the three sessions.  Eleven of the twelve tunes recorded were released on four Capitol 10” LPs in their “Classics in Jazz” series.  The only tune not released in the 10” LP series was the vocal from the 1950 session, DARN THAT DREAM.  The discography details are taken from The Capitol Label Discography compiled by Michel Ruppli, Bill Daniels and Ed Novitsky with assistance from Michael Cuscuna published by Names & Numbers, © 2007.

Barry Ulanov reviewed the first releases in the “Classics in Jazz” series in the September 1952 issue of Metronome magazine, THE MODERN IDIOM (Capitol H-325) that included BUDO from the January 21, 1949 session and TRUMPET STYLISTS (Capitol H-326) that included MOVE from the same session.

The “Classics in Jazz” series covers shared a common graphic design with the earlier releases framing a central design with a paper clip holding a torn corner with the script “Classics in Jazz” identifying the series concept of reissuing classic jazz sessions from the Capitol tape vault.

BUDO  and MOVE had been released initially on a 78 single as noted in Part One.  They were also included on 45 EP albums that duplicated the tracks contained on the 10” LP releases.

The third Miles Davis tune to be released in the 10” LP “Classics in Jazz” series was BOPLICITY from the April 22, 1949 recording session. BOPLICITY had also been released previously on a Capitol 78 single.  The faux woodgrain frame that had been part of the earlier “Classics in Jazz” covers was dropped for COOL & QUIET (Capitol H-371) but the paper clipped title of the series remained.  This would be the first instance of “cool” being used to describe a tune from the Miles Davis sessions. COOL & QUIET was also released as an EP album.

The last release in the “Classics in Jazz” 10” LP series encompassing tunes from the Miles Davis 1949-1950 sessions finally gathered eight of the tunes from those dates on a single album.  Four of the tunes had never been released previously, MOON DREAMS, DECEPTION, ROCKER and ROUGE.  JERU, VENUS DE MILO, GODCHILD and ISRAEL had been issued previously on 78 singles.  Cool was not an adjective used to describe the eight tunes on this release, they were simply noted as “performances that are really classics in jazz.” The album was also released as a double EP set.

Down Beat reviewed the album in their June 2, 1954 edition of the magazine giving it five stars, their highest rating.

Metronome did not give the album a review.  Issues of Metronome throughout 1954 regularly reviewed releases by Miles Davis, but these were albums on Prestige where he was fulfilling a contract.  Ulanov notes this preference for their review policy in an August column.

The eleven tunes spread over these four 10” LP releases would finally be united on a 12” LP release in 1957 that would be titled “Miles Davis - The Birth of the Cool.” This release, Capitol T-762, will be examined in Part Three.

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