A history of cool jazz in 100 tracks (part 2)

Edited by Ted Gioia

We continue with our history of cool jazz in 100 tracks. Below we present the final fifty recordings, which span the period from 1958 to the present day. (For part one of this article, click here.)

I again offer my thanks to the following writers whose work is included in this survey: Scott Albin, Thomas Cunniffe, David Franklin, Steve Greenlee, Bill Kirchner, Walter Kolosky, Alan Kurtz, Todd S. Jenkins, Chris Kelsey, Matt Leskovic, Stuart Nicholson, Thierry Quénum, Mark Saleski, Judith Schlesinger, Jeff Sultanof, David Tenenholtz and Brendan Wolfe.

Happy listening!




A History of Cool Jazz in 100 Tracks
Part Two: 1958-2008


 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
Summertime (1958)
Reviewed by Jeff Sultanof

"Gil Evans was a master of orchestral color, and even these simple instrumental groupings are interesting because he shifts them unobtrusively. . . ."

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 Jimmy Giuffre

Jimmy Giuffre:
The Train and the River (1958)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"'The Train and The River' is one of the finest 1950s jazz compositions. . . ."

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Ahmad Jamal

Ahmad Jamal:
Poinciana (1958)
Reviewed by Steve Greenlee

"'Poinciana' ranks among the loveliest upbeat numbers in the jazz canon. . . ."

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 Bud Shank & Laurindo Almeida

Bud Shank & Laurindo Almeida:
Little Girl Blue (1958)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Long before 'Girl from Ipanema' hit the charts, Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida were exploring ways of combining Brazilian music with the ethos of cool jazz. . . ."

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 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
My Man's Gone Now (1958)
Reviewed by Scott Albin

"Serena's lamentation for her slain husband Robbins, 'My Man's Gone Now' as reworked by Davis and Evans is mesmerizing from beginning to end. . . ."

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 João Gilberto

João Gilberto:
Chega de Saudade (1958)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Four years would elapse before the U.S. market discovered this sound, but when they found it, they didn't need to know a word of Portuguese to realize that something special had been hatching down in Rio. . . ."

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Chico Hamilton

Chico Hamilton:
Blue Sands (1958)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"'Blue Sands,' composed by flutist/saxophonist Buddy Collette for the original Chico Hamilton Quintet (1955), was part of a long tradition of jazz exotica dating at least as far back as Ellington's "Caravan" (1936). . . ."

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 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
Flamenco Sketches (1959)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"With gloriously lucid solos all around (especially Coltrane's), 'Flamenco Sketches' lasts 9+ minutes, but you want it to go on forever. . . ."

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Shelly Manne

Shelly Manne:
Summertime (1959)
Reviewed by Thomas Cunniffe

"In 1959 producer Lester Koenig had the good sense to record Shelly Manne & His Men for four nights at San Francisco's Blackhawk. . . ."

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 Lee Konitz & Jimmy Giuffre

Lee Konitz & Jimmy Giuffre:
Palo Alto (1959)
Reviewed by Thierry Quenum

"This collective effort by Konitz, Giuffre and their colleagues is definitely one of the major achievements of the so-called cool school. . . ."

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 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
So What (1959)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"This is the coolest hipster's shrug of all time. . . ."

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 Gunther Schuller

Gunther Schuller:
Concertino for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra (1959)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"The underlying structures are full of interesting twists, such as the fresh take on 5/4 from the opening movement or the unconventional 13-bar blues of the 'Passacaglia'. . . ."

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Art Pepper

Art Pepper:
'Round Midnight (1959)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"Due to what the 1950s jazz press euphemistically called 'personal problems,' the once-prolific Art Pepper made just one recording session between late 1957 and early '59. . . ."

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 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio) (1959)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"'Everybody in the whole studio,' participant Elvin Jones recalled, 'including engineers, janitors, and everyone else—they were just awed. . . . '"

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 John Lewis

John Lewis:
Sketch (1959)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"MJQ + string quartet = one felicitous match. . . ."

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 Gerry Mulligan

Gerry Mulligan (featuring Zoot Sims):
Come Rain or Come Shine (1960)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"Make no mistake, this is among the finest gems of Zoot's 45-year career. . . ."

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 Gerry Mulligan

Gerry Mulligan (featuring Bob Brookmeyer):
You Took Advantage of Me (1960)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"Brookmeyer's arrangement takes advantage of the CJB's superb ensemble, and the trombonist himself delivers a droll, choked-valve cornucopia of smears, burrs, sputters and gusts. . . ."

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 Bill Evans

Bill Evans:
My Foolish Heart (1961)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"If the beats were any farther apart you might doubt that there was any strict tempo on this track. . . ."

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 Art Farmer

Art Farmer:
Goodbye, Old Girl (1961)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"Art Farmer set a goal for his swan song as a fulltime trumpeter: ' wanted it to sound as if I were sitting and talking to someone with the horn, talking to just one person'. . . ."

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 Stan Getz

Stan Getz:
I�m Late, I�m Late (1961)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"Stan Getz's completely improvised playing on two 4-minute takes proved so remarkable, they were spliced to form a continuous 8-minute track. . . ."

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 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
Someday My Prince Will Come (1961)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"These opening feints—forty seconds of sweetness and light—are worth the price of admission alone . . . but then Miles enters and shows how he can put his stamp on a song just by playing the melody. . . . "

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 Jimmy Giuffre (with Paul Bley & Steve Swallow)

Jimmy Giuffre (with Paul Bley & Steve Swallow):
Emphasis (1961)
Reviewed by Mark Saleski

"With the opening phrases so full of angular passages from Giuffre, and with all of those clattering chords from Bley, the listener can be diverted from the truth: this is a blues. . . ."

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 Stan Getz

Stan Getz:
Desafinado (1962)
Reviewed by Judith Schlesinger

"'Desafinado' first appeared on the 1962 Jazz Samba album that launched the bossa nova craze and stayed on the charts for 70 weeks. . . ."

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 Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi:
Cast Your Fate to the Wind (1962)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"Alternating pedal point and Latin beat before breaking into 4/4 jazz, combining a funky left hand with Floyd Cramer-style right hand, Vince shows the virtuous simplicity of less is more. . . ."

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 Stan Getz

Stan Getz:
The Girl from Ipanema (1963)
Reviewed by Judith Schlesinger

"One of the most recorded tunes of all time, it's also been Muzaked deeply into the public mind. . . ."

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 Miles Davis

Miles Davis:
Summer Night (1963)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"This is a hidden gem in the Miles Davis discography, a dark and moody ballad performance that got lost in the shuffle. . . ."

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 Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini:
The Pink Panther Theme (1963)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"if they ever crown the king of the cats, Mancini's chart will be used for the coronation march. . . ."

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 Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi:
Linus and Lucy (1964)
Reviewed by Alan Kurtz

"'Twelve drummers drumming?' suggested Linus. 'Don't be ridiculous,' snapped Lucy. . . ."

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 Steve Kuhn & Gary McFarland

Steve Kuhn & Gary McFarland:
St. Tropez Shuttle (1966)
Reviewed by Bill Kirchner

"McFarland wrote with deep understanding of the pianist's gifts—particularly his often austere lyricism. . . ."

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 Dave Holland

Dave Holland:
Conference of the Birds (1972)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Do I detect a Celtic tinge? Am I crazy when I actually hear the birds singing in this piece?. . . ."

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 Bill Evans & Claus Ogerman

Bill Evans & Claus Ogerman:
Symbiosis (1974)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"The result is one of the neglected masterpieces of the decade, and a high point in Evans's discography. . . ."

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 Stan Getz & Jimmy Rowles

Stan Getz & Jimmy Rowles:
The Peacocks (1975)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"It was a great decade for this journeyman musician, but the high point came on this session -- with a major label in his corner, and Stan Getz producing and stepping out of the booth to join in as a sideman. . . ."

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 Jim Hall

Jim Hall:
Concierto de Aranjuez (1975)
Reviewed by Matt Leskovic

"Jim Hall's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' unites three of the purest melodists in jazz in Baker, Desmond, and the guitarist himself. . . ."

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Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond:
Wendy (1975)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"If cool jazz got any cooler than this, you would need to wear parkas to the gig. . . ."

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 Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett:
The K�ln Concert: Part I (1975)
Reviewed by Walter Kolosky

"Any description of this music that does not contain the word 'inspired' is a lie. . . ."

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Cal Tjader

Cal Tjader:
When Lights Are Low (1977)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Cal Tjader recorded prolifically for Berkeley's Fantasy label, but his last project is my favorite. . . ."

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 Stan Getz

Stan Getz:
Blood Count (1987)
Reviewed by Scott Albin

"Stan Getz had not heard the classic Ellington-Hodges recording of 'Blood Count' from August 1967, and had never played it until the Pure Getz session in 1982. Yet Getz outdid Hodges and pretty much 'owned' the tune from that point on. . . ."

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 Chet Baker

Chet Baker:
Stella by Starlight (1987)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Here is a live recording made less than a year before Baker's death—at a Tokyo date much prized by Baker-o-philes—that finds the trumpeter improvising with unbridled creativity. . . ."

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 Art Farmer

Art Farmer:
Soul Eyes (1991)
Reviewed by Scott Albin

"Farmer's long solo is beautifully sculpted, and with his dreamy phrases and surging lines succeeds in capturing the tune's essence. . . ."

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 Gerry Mulligan

Gerry Mulligan:
Deception (1992)
Reviewed by Scott Albin

"In 1991, original Nonet member Gerry Mulligan decided it was time to record a new version of Birth of the Cool. Miles Davis was interested in participating, but his untimely death resulted in Wallace Roney taking his place. . . ."

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 Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider:
Evanescence (1992)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Maria Schneider honors her mentor Gil Evans—whom she assisted in various musical pursuits during the last three years of his life—with her glorious composition 'Evanescence'. . . ."

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Shirley Horn

Shirley Horn:
You Go to My Head (1995)
Reviewed by Scott Albin

"After the track ends, you might not even realize that neither Horn nor [Joe] Henderson soloed. Their subtle shadings and the collective impact of their miniature commentaries are so overwhelmingly absorbing as to require no extended individual elaborations. . . ."

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 Diana Krall

Diana Krall:
S'wonderful (2001)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"I once thought that all the great bossa nova singers were from Brazil, but Krall has forced me to alter my opinion. . . ."

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 Tomasz Stanko

Tomasz Stanko:
Soul of Things I (2001)
Reviewed by Stuart Nicholson

"What do you play after Kind of Blue? It seems to consume the space before and after it, diminishing anything that follows. Here is one answer. . . ."

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 Norah Jones

Norah Jones:
Don't Know Why (2002)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"Everything clicks here—the wistful melody, Jones' impeccable phrasing, the understated accompaniment. . . ."

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Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux:
Between the Bars (2003)
Reviewed by Matt Leskovic

"While Peyroux's smoky vocals and behind-the-beat delivery are heavily Billie Holiday-influenced, in this case the fit is perfect. . . ."

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 Enrico Rava & Stefano Bollani

Enrico Rava & Stefano Bollani:
Estate (2006)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"The performance moves from introspective lyricism to rhapsodic rubato, but never strains for effect. . . ."

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 Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider:
Cerulean Skies (2007)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"We have come to expect grand things from Maria Schneider, and she delivers again on 'Cerulean Skies'—a 22-minute track that shows off the full range of her aural palette. . . ."

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Marcin Wasilewski

Marcin Wasilewski:
Cinema Paradiso (2007)
Reviewed by Ted Gioia

"What remarkable patience Wasilewski shows in constructing his performances! Hearing his music is almost like watching the replay of a great sporting event in slow motion. . . ."

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Teddy Charles

Teddy Charles:
Nostalgia in Times Square (2008)
Reviewed by Chris Kelsey

"Teddy Charles might well be the only jazz musician to have given up a successful career in music to become a sea captain. . . ."

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May 16, 2009 · 4 comments

  • 1 George Harris // May 18, 2009 at 08:56 PM
    The fact that you started with Frankie Trambauer proved that you were on the right track. Can't wait to see the book.
  • 2 Justin White // May 19, 2009 at 10:06 PM
    I too cannot wait for the book. Your survey is some parts grace and nostalgia circumscribed by illumination and soul.
  • 3 K.J. // May 21, 2009 at 02:25 PM
    Wow. Really? No Sarah Vaughan?
  • 4 Mike Plett // May 22, 2009 at 01:57 AM
    I would have thought Take 5 and/or Blue Rondo a la Turk would have made this list.