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With: Miles Davis, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Robert Herridge, Wynton Kelly
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Jack Smight
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 25
Date: 04/19/2005

Miles Davis: The Cool Jazz Sound (2005)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Miles Ahead

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This 25-minute DVD, rescued from an old television program, is one of the best and most essential jazz videos I've seen. The last Miles Davis video I caught featured him in the midst of his horrible 1980s synthesizer period. But The Cool Jazz Sound captures him, young and angry, in 1959, right around the time of his masterpiece Kind of Blue. Miles performs four tunes in the studio, and a handful of cameras swirl and swoop around, trying to capture visually the mood of the music. If that's not enough, another genius, John Coltrane, is right by his side contributing tenor sax to the tune "So What." The fuzzy black-and-white video looks as if it were mastered from a kinescope, that is, filmed from a television monitor during a live taping. But, more importantly, the sound is excellent, and much better than I would have expected.

The DVD release, by Music Video Distributors and Disconforme, contains a list of all the musicians present at the taping, but no other real extras. Other titles in this same series feature Billie Holiday, Nat 'King' Cole, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, B.B. King and Keith Jarrett.

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