Recorded in between 1949 and 1950, Birth of the Cool displays Miles Davis' transition from traditional Bebop to the style known as "cool jazz". While the bebop influence is clear throughout the album, the arrangements lend themselves to an almost classical vibe. The songs on the album are interesting, experimental, and showcase some of the greatest jazz musicians that have ever lived.
Simply put, the Miles Davis Nonet does not disappoint.
While you won't hear the tightest ensemble playing, or even the most in-tune playing, you will still be blown away by how well these guys know the language of jazz. From the fast solos to the mellow night music, this album screams of authenticity. While listening through this grouping of tunes, I began to wonder if the Nonet could have cared less about being the next big thing or making millions of dollars in record sales. It seems to me that this is pure musical experimentation, which seems to be what Miles Davis was all about throughout his entire career. While some of his later albums are a little too experimental for my taste, this album balances listen-ability for the listener, and experimental creativity for the artist very well.
Verdict: Overall, this is a great jazz album and should be heard before you kick the bucket. The musicianship is top notch, and the arrangements are incredibly well put together. If you want a primer to "cool jazz" this just may be it. There is only one song that has vocals in it, so those of you who aren't used to straight instrumental albums may have a harder time appreciating what is going on, but it is still worth a listen. This is music that suits you night owls perfectly. Great overall album, but again it may be a little too much musically for people with no experience listening to jazz.