Monday, September 08, 2014

Impact Records: Miles Davis - Birth of The Cool

It's been a while since added to this series of the blog. Here are the previous entries - Kings of Swing, Kind Of Blue, Charlie Parker, Billie and Pres, Out To Lunch.

I'm not sure what led me to this album. Perhaps someone mentioned it to me or I read about it somewhere. This was early in 1999 during my first year at music schools and hitting the library was almost part of the daily routine (I lived just a couple of blocks away). Sometimes I was there for something specific, other times I would just choose albums at random. Either way, I returned home from one of my many visits to the library with a stack of CDs to listen to and in amongst them was Miles Davis' Birth Of The Cool. The first track "Move," grabbed my attention - this was a different sound from the ensemble. But the thing that really made me pay attention was the alto saxophone solo. So this was Lee Konitz - a name I had come across but had yet to hear. A personal approach to the horn - tone, phrasing, time, the line. This album got a lot of air time that week/month and at times I would just loop Konitz's solos. Not long after hearing Birth Of The Cool (maybe the same week) I was exposed to him again during one of our Improvisation classes. Our teacher (Hi Nick!) talked about Konitz's 10-step method and played us "All The Things You Are" and "Too Marvelous For Words" from Konitz Meets Mulligan. I purchased this album not long after with money from playing on the street [This was how I funded most of my CD purchases during my time at music school… I enjoyed the expression on their faces as I handed over $20-$30 in change]. Not long after that was Lennie Tristano/Warne Marsh Intuition (the reissue of Tristano's Capitol Recordings and a Marsh session from the 50s) and Konitz's Subconscious-Lee, which I had to special order and it was expensive. I'll probably write a bit on those albums in the future.
During my first visit to NYC (April 2002) I heard concert by a college faculty band playing the Birth Of The Cool charts. I can't remember what school but John Faddis was on trumpet, I think Jim Snidero was on alto and John Riley on drums - I'm sure I have it written down in a notebook somewhere. I took me a little while to get the live recordings once they were issued. I haven't listened to them in a while so maybe I'll head there next.

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