Miles Davis

The Cool Jazz Sound [DVD]

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Although it clocks in at under half an hour, this volume in Music Video Distributors' Stars of Jazz Collection should be considered "essential viewing" for all manner of jazz enthusiasts. Within is the full-length July 21, 1960, TV appearance by trumpeter Miles Davis and company on the Sound of Miles Davis episode of The Robert Herridge Theater Show (actually recorded on April 2, 1959, but not broadcast until over a year later). Indeed, it was rare for Davis to be appearing on a national telecast, but equally notable is the ensemble with whom he shares the soundstage, not to mention the selections they chose to play. Davis is in charge of his "great quintet" of saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. They are accompanied by arranger Gil Evans, who conducts trumpeters Ernie Royal, Clyde Reisinger, Louis Mucci, Johnny Coles, and Emmett Berry; trombonists Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland, Bill Elton, and Rod Levitt; clarinetists/flutists Romeo Penque and Eddie Caine; bass clarinetist Danny Bank; flügelhornist Julius Watkins, French horn player Robert Northern; and tubaist Billy Barber. Conspicuously absent is saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, who purportedly was unable to attend due to illness. His deficiency is made up by Davis, as he adopts the extra solo spot prior to and directly after Coltrane during the opener -- "So What." Otherwise, the brief set encompasses a trio of tunes that had been on 1957's Miles Ahead, including Dave Brubeck's "The Duke" -- which is presented in a medley along with Gil Evans' "Blues for Pablo" -- and Ahmad Jamal's "New Rhumba." As Robert Herridge alludes to in his spoken introduction, the first segment of the show centers on the modern sounds of jazz and presenting the artist "in his own language, the language of music." Fittingly, Evans and his orchestra lay low during "So What" as Davis surrounds Coltrane's fluid improvisational leads. Unlike the Miles Ahead rendering of "The Duke," the reading is not preceded by the Evans-arranged "The Maids of Cadiz." Rather, the catchy midtempo tune is linked with the sublime and stately "Blues for Pablo." Closing the affair, "New Rhumba" embraces the full brass section with bracing impacts that are countered by Davis' muted trumpet and the formidable rhythm section's erudite bounce. Potential consumers should be aware that there are numerous titles floating around claiming the same contents as 2004's Cool Jazz Sound. Caveat emptor, as most contain highly edited extracts rather than the complete performances located here.

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