While it is missing work from artists like Al Cohn, Dave Brubeck, and Russ Freeman, the two-disc, 20-track Cool Jazz: The Essential Album does include songs from Chet Baker (two in fact, "Over the Rainbow" and "Peace"), Lee Konitz ("Luiza"), Miles Davis ("Nature Boy" plus an appearance on Cannonball Adderley's "Autumn Leaves"), Sonny Rollins ("'Round Midnight"), Art Blakey ("Whisper Not"), and John Coltrane ("Blue Train"), among others. The jazz may not be raucous, but that doesn't mean it's overly smooth or boring. It makes for a nice collection, with the first disc more geared toward earlier stuff and the second toward later (though it does end with Mingus' "Body and Soul," which he released early in his solo career, circa 1950, on his own Debut Records), including some pieces from lesser-known artists (Brooklyn Funk Essentials, for example). The whole thing flows very nicely, creating a nice and, well, cool atmosphere.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2