I can credit Cool and Collected with getting one thing right: Miles Davis was cool. His music, his presence, exuded cool. The problem with that is – no matter how scrupulous your selection – one cannot distill cool into thirteen tracks, no matter how good. If Miles Davis is to be compiled in any fashion, it should be at least five disks long. Or, better yet, it should just be a giant crate containing everything the man ever recorded. But thirteen tracks does not do him justice.
As with nearly everything Miles Davis recorded, the tracks on Cool and Collected are miles above almost anything else ever recorded. Never content to let his music stagnate, Davis would evolve his music with every release, keeping him constantly at the forefront of everything happening in jazz. He practically invented cool jazz on his seminal album Birth of the Cool. But Cool and Collected contains an entire ZERO tracks from that release. I fail to understand why not even one number from that landmark release is included here. It has “cool” in the title, for fuck’s sake. Also overlooked is Bitches Brew, yet another groundbreaking album (“groundbreaking” is a running theme of Davis’ career).
I wish I could slather praise on the deserving music collected here, but ultimately I am reviewing a collection. Sadly, it is a collection that would serve only the mildly interested uninitiated casual listener. The collection is described as the “most essential music,” but the oversight of two of the man’s best albums renders that claim untrue. Of course, the selections are still good. “So What,” which opens the collection (and it’s original home, Kind of Blue) is arguably the ultimate piece that Davis ever composed (I emphasize “arguably”). But the Carlos Santana augmented remix of “It’s about That Time,” though intriguing, not “essential.” I suppose Cool and Collected in a Haphazard Fashion doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it would probably be more accurate.