Miles Davis – ‘Birth of the Cool’

Miles Davis was one of the most famous musicians in the Jazz genre with a career spanning multiple decades. He also reinvented himself and changed Jazz several times during that career. Davis left Charlie Parker‘s band in 1948 and began recording his own music with a new group of musicians. Less than a year later recording started on what would later become ‘Birth of the Cool‘. Although actually a compilation rather than a true album, it is a landmark in his career. It was recorded between three sessions in 1949 and 1950 but not released until 1957 by which time Davis‘ career had reached far greater heights.

Miles Davis’ 1957 compilation album ‘Birth of the Cool’

One of the last tracks to be recorded on the compilation was a cover of Johnny Mercer and Chummy MacGregor‘s ‘Moon Dreams, arranged by Gil Evans. This particular track was recorded on 9th March 1950 in New York and featured Miles Davis (trumpet), Al McKibbon (bass), John Lewis (piano), J. J. Johnson (trombone), Bill Barber (tuba), Gunther Schuller (French horn), Lee Konitz (alto saxophone) and Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone). Fast forward nearly fifty years from its original release and ‘Moon Dreams was sampled by D.Kay on the 2005 Drum & Bass track ‘Serenade with a section of the original composition repurposed as a hook motif. The album ‘Birth of the Cool‘ is also the inspiration for the name of Omni Trio‘s 1995 Jungle track ‘Nu Birth of Cool‘. Although Omni Trio‘s track doesn’t appear to sample from the album, it was an obvious homage at least in name to Miles Davis and in an article in 1994 by Simon Reynolds in The Wire Miles Davis is listed as one of his influences.

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