Miles Davis


Composed by Cleo Henry / Gil Evans / Miles Davis

Song Review by

Cleo Henry's "Boplicity" is best known in the version Miles Davis cut on April 22, 1949, as part of the three sessions that came to be known as the Birth of the Cool sessions. The title may suggest that it's a hot-wired, manic bop masterpiece, but that's not the case in Davis' version. Yes, the song itself is rooted in the quick, multi-chorded, winding melodies of bop, but Davis and his band -- also featuring J.J. Johnson, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Knotiz, John Lewis, and Kenny Clarke -- is complex, muted, and laid-back. That is due in large part to the size of the combo -- it was nonet, featuring trombone, French horn, and tuba -- and the overall direction of Davis at this time. He had recently struck up a friendship and working relationship with Gil Evans, who wrote the charts for the music the nonet cut between January 1949 and March 1950. They were both interested in bringing the vivacity of bop into a different plane where they could experiment with tonal color, varying rhythms, and a less aggressive style of playing. It was dubbed later as the Birth of the Cool because of its subdued rhythms and tones, but it was never as purely stylish as such "cool" pioneers as Chet Baker. Although it might not be the pinnacle of the nonet sessions, "Boplicity" illustrates the difference quite effectively. It is a dense piece of music, with no obvious hook, but it still is welcoming due to its ever-changing tonal colors and warm sound. It takes a few listens to grasp what is happening on every level of the song, but it never alienates; it invites you to come back and discover what's happening. That's always been true of Davis' work, and there are few better introductions to this timeless, innovative period of his career than this version of "Boplicity."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Birth of the Cool 1957 Blue Note
Milestones 1958 BMG / Dreyfus Jazz / Jazz Reference 2:59
The Blue Note and Capitol Recordings 1993 EMI / EMI Digital 2:59
No Image 1995 Four Star
Jazz Essentials [EMI Special Markets] 1995
Various Artists
CEMA Special Markets 3:01
The Instrumental History of Jazz 1997
Various Artists
N-Coded Music / N2K Records 2:59
Jazz Profile Introductory Sampler 1998
Various Artists
Blue Note 2:59
The Complete Birth of the Cool [Blue Note] 1998 Definitive / Definitive Classics 3:02
Visions of Jazz: A Musical Journey 1998
Various Artists
Blue Note 3:01
From Be-Bop to Cool 2000
Various Artists
Giants Of Jazz Recordings 3:02
Ken Burns Jazz 2000 Sony Music Distribution
Mellow Jazz [Crimson Productions] 2001
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:00
Young Miles 2001 Proper Box 3:01
All Music Guide: Classic Jazz Solos 2001
Various Artists
All Music Guide / Medalist Entertainment 3:04
Boplicity [Proper] 2001 Proper Sales & Dist. 3:01
Greatest Jazz [Disky] 2002
Various Artists
Golden Greats / Disky Communications
The History of Jazz [Prism] 2002
Various Artists
Prism Entertainment
No Image 2002
Various Artists
Legacy / Columbia 3:01
The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991 2002 Columbia/Legacy 3:40
The Giant of Jazz 2002 Past Perfect
Boplicity [Recall] 2002 Recall (UK) 3:01
The Early Years, Vol. 2: 1947-1950 2003 Body & Soul
Move 2003 X5 Music Group 3:01
Elite Jazz [Box] 2003
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 3:01
Move 2003 Back Up
Miles Stones 2004 Trilogie 3:00
Quintessence: 1945-1951 2004 Frémeaux & Associés 3:02
Formative Years 2004 Castle Pulse 3:01
Jazz Biography Series 2004 United Multimedia / United Multi Consign 3:00
The Jazz Scene [St. Clair CD & DVD] 2004
Various Artists
St. Clair 3:00
The Very Best 2005 Blue Note 3:00
No Image 2005 Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Great Sessions 2006 Angel Records 3:02
Perk-O-Lations Jazz 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:01
Anthology [Deja Vu] 2007 Deja Vu Definitive Gold
Mastercuts 2007 Mastercuts 3:00
Miles Better 2007 Kingsroad / Wagram / Wagram Records
Best of Miles Davis [Direct Source] 2007 Direct Source 3:01
Platinum [Capitol] 2007 Capitol/EMI Records 3:02
Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die 2008
Various Artists
Golden Stars 3:01
Out of the Blue [Documents] 2008 Membran International / Document
Complete Birth of the Cool [Jazz Track] 2008 Jazz Track 3:00
Jazz Obowiązkowy 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / MyMusic 3:03
Jazz Legend 2011 United Audio Entertainment 3:02
The Jazz Years: A History of Jazz 2011
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Miles! The Definitive Miles Davis at Montreux DVD Collection 1973-1991 2011 Eagle Rock / Eagle Vision
The Rough Guide To Jazz Legends: Miles Davis: Birth of a Legend (Reborn and Remastered) 2011 World Music Network
Twenty Classic Albums [Box Set] 2012 Ais / Real Gone Jazz / Real Gone Music
52nd Street 3:00
No Image
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
AP Music
No Image Bella Edition 3:03
Nature Boy Excalibur 3:01
No Image Prestige Elite Records 3:05
The  Biggest & Best Fifties Album
Various Artists
Roastin 2:58
No Image Chacra Licensing 3:02
The Great Miles Davis: 30 Classic Tracks Excalibur 2:59
blue highlight denotes editor's pick