On the heels of Miles Davis' style-defining release Birth of the Cool, Shorty Rogers and Gerry Mulligan chimed in with their own important cool jazz records, placing the music in its future West Coast home in the process. Modern Sounds brings together some of these seminal recordings, including a 1951 set by Rogers and His Giants and a 1953 date by Mulligan and His Tennette. Rogers' outfit includes then future West Coast stars like alto saxophonist Art Pepper, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre, pianist Hampton Hawes, and drummer Shelley Manne, among others. Each soloist gets plenty of room to stretch out on a set including four Rogers originals; Pepper particularly shines on a fine rendition "Over the Rainbow," while Giuffre deserves special mention for his sparkling original "Four Mothers." Save for Vernon Duke's "Taking a Chance on Love," the second half of this collection includes all Mulligan originals. Similar to Rogers' fine work, these cuts bounce along on airy and subtly complex arrangements. Joining Mulligan are standout soloists like trumpeters Chet Baker and Pete Candoli, alto saxophonist Bud Shank, and drummer Chico Hamilton. Highlights include "Westwood Walk," "A Ballad," and "Rocker" (this last cut having originally been cut as part of the Birth of the Cool sessions). A very enjoyable set taking in the beginnings of West Coast jazz.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook