Released in 1957, the first of Miles Davis’ landmark albums, is being reissued as Miles Davis: The Complete Birth of the Cool on June 7 with newly remastered tracks, live recordings, archival photographs, and much more.
The new album commemorates the 70th anniversary of the 1949 recording session where the Miles Davis Nonet, including Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, Max Roach, and Lee Konitz, among others, with arrangements by Gil Evans, moved jazz in a radical new direction—the first significant stylistic leap forward after bebop.
Two listening sessions and panel discussions featuring Miles Davis: The Complete Birth of the Cool, one in Los Angeles and a second in New York, are set for June 10 and June 12, respectively. Konitz, the last surviving member of the original Birth of the Cool lineup, will attend the New York panel.
Urban Legends / Universal Music Group will host the first session at the hi-fi vinyl cocktail bar In Sheep’s Clothing in downtown L.A.’s Arts District. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free.
Panel discussions from 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. with Taj Frazier, Mekala Session, and Terrace Martin will be followed by a Complete Birth of the Cool listening session from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will also be a giveaway of a painting by Grammy-nominated art director Darrius Moreno.
The June 12 event in New York starts at 7 p.m. at Jazz at Lincoln Center. A panel of witnesses and enthusiasts—including Konitz; arranger/composer David Amram; trumpeters Keyon Harrold (player of all the trumpet parts in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead) and Ingrid Jensen; bandleader and Gil Evans expert Ryan Truesdell; along with moderator, historian, and regular JazzTimes contributor Ashley Kahn—will play selections and display historical images from Miles Davis: The Complete Birth of the Cool, exploring why and how this music came to be and what continues to make it significant today.
As Kahn writes in his liner notes to the new set, the story is about “bold beginnings and debuts – Birth of the Cool was a proving ground of instrumental talent and of approaches. Each of its participants would develop ideas that came from the project in their own disparate way, collectively leading jazz into a brave, postbop world in the years that followed.”
The Complete Birth of the Cool—to be released in 2LP vinyl, CD, and digital formats—includes all 12 sides that the Miles Davis Nonet recorded in 1949-50, as well as the ensemble’s only extant live recordings, recorded at the Royal Roost in New York. The new release marks the first time since 1957 that the recordings have been remastered for vinyl and the first time all the Birth of the Cool performances, studio and live, are available together on LP. The vinyl package includes a booklet filled with archival photographs and an extensive new essay by Kahn.