Cookin' is the first of four albums derived from the Miles Davis Quintet's fabled extended recording session on October 26, 1956; the concept being that the band would document its vast live-performance catalog in a studio environment, rather than preparing all new tracks for its upcoming long-player. The bounty of material in the band's live sets -- as well as the overwhelming conviction in the quintet's studio sides -- would produce the lion's share of the Cookin', Relaxin', Workin', and Steamin' albums. As these recordings demonstrate, there is an undeniable telepathic cohesion that allows this band -- consisting of Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums) -- to work so efficiently both on the stage and the studio. This same unifying force is also undoubtedly responsible for the extrasensory dimensions scattered throughout these recordings. The immediate yet somewhat understated ability of each musician to react with ingenuity and precision is expressed in the consistency and singularity of each solo as it is maintained from one musician to the next without the slightest deviation. "Blues by Five" reveals the exceptional symmetry between Davis and Coltrane that allows them to complete each other's thoughts musically. Cookin' features the pairing of "Tune Up/When Lights Are Low" which is, without a doubt, a highlight not only of this mammoth session, but also the entire tenure of Miles Davis' mid-'50s quintet. All the elements converge upon this fundamentally swinging medley. Davis' pure-toned solos and the conversational banter that occurs with Coltrane, and later Garland during "When the Lights Are Low," resound as some of these musicians' finest moments.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer