Miles Davis: Cool & Collected

[14 November 2006]

By Quentin B. Huff

If you’re a huge Miles Davis fan with an extensive collection, Cool & Collected wasn’t meant for you. You might pick it up anyway, either to sate your curiosity or so that you can say you own every Miles-related release you could find. Otherwise, this release is going to frustrate you as you continually wonder, “How in the world can you represent the artistry of Miles Davis in a single disc?”  Luckily, the compilers weren’t aiming to be comprehensive; they’re looking to whet more appetites to the Davis legacy as 2006 marks what would have been Davis’ 80th birthday. The press release for the album says as much, noting its appeal to the “non-jazz consumer”. Perhaps the urge to hip more people to Davis’ “coolness” was sparked by Davis’ induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year—the first modern jazz musician to receive the honor.

Rather than preaching to the converted, as the adage goes, Cool & Collected works best for those who aren’t quite so familiar with Miles Davis. In search of fresh ears, there are 13 classic Miles Davis tunes chosen from various points in the Legend’s career. Most of the songs come from the ‘50s—“Bye Bye Blackbird” (1956), “‘Round Midnight” (1956), “Générique” (1957), “Milestones” (1958), “Summertime” (1958), “So What” (1959), “Stella by Starlight” (1959), and an alternate take of “Fran-Dance” recorded in 1958 and released in 2000.  From there, the remainder transitions chronologically, with tunes from the ‘60s (“Seven Steps to Heaven”, “E.S.P.”, and the previously unreleased remix of “It’s About that Time” featuring Carlos Santana) and covers from the ‘80s (Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and the Michael Jackson hit, “Human Nature”). Without question, Cool & Collected serves as an excellent primer for initiating potential jazz enthusiasts. Not only will this set offer provocative morsels from Miles Davis, it also hints at the overlap of Davis’ life with other big names. On these songs, you hear Davis at work with greats such as “Cannonball” Adderley, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter.  While this release can’t avoid leaving so much of Davis’ efforts untouched, it successfully gives listeners a starting point for deeper exploration.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/miles-davis-cool-collected/