Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Miles Davis- Birth of the Cool, Vol. 2 (1992)

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NICK DERISO: Volume 2 gives an idea of how considerable a wake the 1940s Miles Davis Nonet left.

Taking its name from Davis’ legendary 1950 recording, this welcome, if belated, compilation scoops up all of the Capitol cuts from the early ’50s by two of the nonet’s most important disciples, Shorty Rogers and his Giants and the Gerry Mulligan Tentette.

Mulligan, one of the original members of Davis Nonet, played with Rogers years before in the Stan Kenton Orchestra, so collecting the threesome here is foot-stampingly apropos. They’re notable, too, in that the eight Mulligan tracks are the only ones recorded with a 10-piece he organized in 1952, with Chet Baker taking a brilliant turn on trumpet.

The album’s topper comes late, and doesn’t hang around for long: Miles Davis and the Metronome All-Stars only appear on the final two tracks. Davis is joined by a constellation of jazz greats, including Stan Getz on the tenor, George Shearing at piano, Max Roach on drums and Terry Gibbs on vibes.

Shearing’s “Local 802 Blues,” which closes the album, gets everybody in on the act, with a series of thrilling, paired-off solos.

That makes it more than a nice companion piece to the original “Birth of the Cool” masterpiece. The result, in fact, is a primer on the West Coast sound that’s wider and deeper in scope.

Now, some say Rogers’ group invented that jazz sub genre with the six songs collected here. (They also appeared in 1952 on a record called “Modern Sounds.”) But, again, these are all guys on loan from the Kenton band, and Davis’ record with producer Gil Evans came first — so I think they need to be part of the conversation, too.


Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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