Miles Davis

Cool & Collected

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Did we really need this? For the first time in years, Legacy has opted not to issue a deluxe Miles Davis box with a ton of unreleased studio and live material and has instead issued this handy little sampler complete with a Carlos Santana remix tagged on at the end. It's more that Legacy needed to issue it. Still, for those just coming to the mystery, magic, and some time-madness of Miles Davis, Cool & Collected is a great place to start. While many might argue that Kind of Blue is the best place (and they'd certainly have a point), the wider view presented here makes real sense. Kicking off with that album's "So What," with the Bill Evans/John Coltrane/Cannonball Adderley band, you can hear one of the most familiar themes in jazz. And if there were ever an intro to Kind of Blue, this cut is the one. There's also the beautiful "Summertime" from the Gil Evans/Miles Davis collaboration of Porgy and Bess. But there are some surprises, too, such as the cross-licensed "Généerique" from the Fontana issued soundtrack to Louis Malle's debut directorial effort, Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud. There is also the alternate take of "Fran-Dance" featured on the Davis/Coltrane box set with the Kind of Blue band. Other familiar themes are "Milestones," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "'Round Midnight," and Wayne Shorter's "E.S.P." The big complaint is that the fabulous last quintet with Shorter is so under-represented here, and that neither the Bitches Brew or Live-Evil bands are included, even as edits. The In a Silent Way album is touched on, however truncated, by Santana's throwaway remix of "It's About That Time." The cover of "Time After Time" that became a surprise late hit single for Davis is far more preferable and is thankfully included. So this set is problematic, and of course it might have been preferable to cross-license the Prestige material instead of this just OK soundtrack, but these are minor quibbles. A decent, if not remarkable intro disc to a 20th century legend.

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