Cool Jazz

Jazz music community with review and forums

Cool jazz arose slowly in the late 40s when many jazz musicians realised there was no point in following in the fast paced be-bop footsteps of Diz and Bird and began to try a more relaxed and quieter approach to playing. Early examples of cool jazz came from Miles Davis' Nonet and Lenny Tristano's group, while later practitioners like Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker showed up on the west coast where cool jazz was often referred to as west coast jazz.

Many cool jazz saxophonists looked to the pre-bop languid sax style of Lester Young for inspiration. Also, 3rd Stream influenced arrangements that featured Baroque style counterpoint became popular during the cool era. One lasting innovation of the cool genre is the idea of concert hall influenced 'chamber jazz' as pioneered by The Modern Jazz Quartet. For some critics, west coast jazz seemed like a souless sell-out compared to the more challenging and urban flavored be-bop of New York City. In 1952 Miles Davis was one of the first 'cool' band leaders to lead the way to a more aggressive next phase in jazz, hard bop.

Cool jazz began to fade before the arrival of fusion and never made a comeback afterwards. Today Cool Jazz is a retro style that defines a certain time and place in jazz history, but is still played by some.

cool jazz top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
4.82 | 131 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BILL EVANS (PIANO) Waltz for Debby Album Cover Waltz for Debby
4.93 | 15 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BILL EVANS (PIANO) Sunday at the Village Vanguard (aka Live At The Village Vanguard) Album Cover Sunday at the Village Vanguard (aka Live At The Village Vanguard)
4.87 | 17 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
DAVE BRUBECK Time Out Album Cover Time Out
4.55 | 61 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET Django Album Cover Django
4.78 | 6 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BILL EVANS (PIANO) Explorations Album Cover Explorations
4.40 | 15 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
DAVE BRUBECK Jazz Impressions of Japan Album Cover Jazz Impressions of Japan
4.44 | 8 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
DAVE BRUBECK Time Further Out Album Cover Time Further Out
4.36 | 7 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
MILES DAVIS Blue Moods Album Cover Blue Moods
4.34 | 7 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
MILES DAVIS My Funny Valentine: Miles Davis in Concert Album Cover My Funny Valentine: Miles Davis in Concert
4.14 | 7 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
KEITH JARRETT Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden : Jasmine Album Cover Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden : Jasmine
4.11 | 9 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

cool jazz online videos

cool jazz New Releases

cool jazz Music Reviews


Album · 1955 · Cool Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The only release for Charles Mingus 'Debut "Blue Moods" is Miles Davis' second LP 12 "and was recorded on July 9, 1955 and released the same year. The style is Cool Jazz, which is a very relaxed and relaxing Jazz more pushed towards the listener than to demonstrate skills and complicated and, in some cases, incomprehensible solos, typical of other forms of Jazz. One of the things to note about "Blue Moods" is the fact that none of the musicians who join Miles Davis on this album are true Cool Jazz experts and, admittedly, this fact can hear it. In fact it is precisely this having to adapt to a genre that is not really that makes "Blue Moods" really explosive and that still makes it fresh and engaging today.

Musically "Blue Moods" consists of four tracks arranged by Teddy Charles (except "Alone Together" which is arranged by Charles Mingus, who also produces the album). As mentioned "Blue Moods" is made up of very relaxed compositions which are easy to listen to and which feature great work by the band and not by a soloist or group of soloists. I don't see it as a Miles Davis album but a band where Miles Davis is the head of operations.

"Blue Moods" is an album, therefore, also suitable for those who are not an expert in Jazz but are looking only for a relaxed and relaxing music and do not want the complexity of certain Jazz. And, because it is the truth, it would have in front of it an authentic masterpiece for how fresh and engaging it is still.


Album · 1959 · Cool Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Its hard to beat the sound of 50s jazz when it comes to classic black and white noir crime TV. So successful is the pairing that exotica collectors coined the term ‘crime jazz’ to describe the dark urban music that accompanies TV detectives and the hoods they stalk. Henry Mancini’s music for “Peter Gunn” is often given credit for inventing this genre, so it comes as no surprise that when Mundell Lowe put together his “TV Action Jazz!” LP, he included two tracks from Mancini’s popular soundtrack. “TV Action Jazz!” might seem like a totally kitsch album, and that element is there, but it also features some excellent jazz arranging and solos from top stars of the day like Herbie Mann and Donald Byrd.

The style on here is laid back hard bop and cool jazz, but this isn’t an entirely west coast band on here, more like a meeting of west and east coast cool schools. Lowe has an octet to work with and takes advantage of that set up to create creative arrangements and mini-big band tone colors. Mundell takes a majority of the solos, and his mix of bop and blues guitar riffs recall Joe Pass, only more laid back and with some interesting twists and turns here and there. Tony Scott has a beautiful tone on the clarinet which sounds great on the slinky opening melody to “Mike Hammer Riff Blues”. The young Donald Byrd does not get a lot of solo space, but when he does, he emulates the popular cool players of the era, namely Miles Davis and Chet Baker. Eddie Costas’ solos on piano and vibes carry that cool school tendency toward cleverness, humor and the non-cliché.

Although there are several well known songs on here, such as “Peter Gunn” and “Perry Mason Theme”, Lowe greatly improves these old warhorses with modern abstract arrangements that only hint at the originals. Sure, those that collect kitsch exotica are going to be attracted to this record, but it also contains all those things that made late 50s cool jazz so cool. it’s a win-win on both fronts.

CHICO HAMILTON The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet

Live album · 1960 · Cool Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The early part of the Chico Hamilton discography is a bit of a confusing mess to descramble with many tracks showing up on more than one album and many albums bearing the same title such as “The Chico Hamilton Quintet” or “The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet” etc. To clarify the situation, this “The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet” album that is being reviewed here was part of a live concert recorded at Strollers back in 1955, but not released until 1960, probably to cash in on the rising popularity of the band. This concert shows Hamilton’s creative group in fine form as they combine a wide array of styles including west coast bebop, hard bop, classical chamber music and rhythms from Africa and South America. All of this music was presented with that distinctly 50s west coast style that came to be called ‘cool’. You really couldn’t call Chico’s quintet avant-garde, but they were one of the more experimental and unorthodox bands of the time, definitely beating out a path all their own.

The album opens with two well known standards, “Caravan” and “Tea for Two”, which the band gives signature creative arrangements. The version of “Caravan” shows the cross-relationship between west coast jazz and the lounge exotica scene of the time, no surprise as many exotica records were performed by west coast jazz musicians. Two up tempo numbers follow with “Fast Flute” living up to its name as Buddy Collete fires off a frantic flute solo while backed by Hamilton’s driving rhythm, which sounds rooted in the music of Africa or Brazil. On track six, “A Mood”, the band shows their specialty, a cleverly arranged melody with shifting time signatures and a surprise around every corner. Something for ‘deep listening’ that still has the snap of a catchy pop tune. “I’ll be Loving You” is their ballad offering and features Buddy’s flute playing melodic exchanges with Fred’s cello. Another up-tempo bop number closes out the set in energetic fashion and features a very musical drum solo from Hamilton, always a master of that peculiarly west coast ‘playing with brushes’ sound.

“The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet” is a good example of a young jazz group all excited about the new possibilities that are being offered to them as they learn from each other. If there is a drawback to this album, the sound quality of the recording is okay, but a little murky, especially the guitar. I’m going to guess that maybe this was not meant to be a released album until the record label saw how popular the band had become.

CHICO HAMILTON Chico Hamilton Quintet Featuring Buddy Collette (aka Spectacular!)

Live album · 1955 · Cool Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
“Chico Hamilton Quintet Featuring Buddy Collette” is not the first Chico Hamilton album, but it’s the first to present his popular quintet and its west coast flavored ‘chamber jazz’ sound. In current times, the term chamber jazz has become vague and often misapplied to jazz that has more in common with art pop and new age music, but in the 1950s, chamber jazz actually meant jazz with a pronounced element of classical chamber music. In other words classical music written for small ensembles. This album is a sort of slap together type affair with supposedly half the tracks coming from one studio session, and the other half from a live date, but judging by the different production values of some of the tracks, I would guess there may be even more sources for these tunes. For the most part, the studio tracks reveal intricately arranged chamber works, while the live ones get into a mellow west coast hard bop swing.

“A Nice Day” opens up the album, and it sets the mood for the Hamilton chamber jazz sound as carefully arranged cello and clarinet lines sometimes give way to concise solos, but mostly its about the creative arrangements. This sound is featured on approximately four tracks, while most of the rest feature Hamilton and crew playing relaxed hard bop jams live at a club with very sparse arrangements and plenty of solo space for guitar and saxophone. If cellist Fred Katz appears on the live cuts, then he must be mixed very much in the background. Studio track, “Blue Sands” is a very interesting ‘exotic’ number that hints at Hamilton’s world fusion direction in the 60s, but the recording is very murky and sounds like it was recorded somewhere different from all the other tracks. Amongst the live tunes, “Free Form”, is an odd experiment, not really free jazz as such, but more like an improvised modern classical piece, it sort of works, but mostly seems almost out of place with the mellow west coast bop numbers.

“Chico Hamilton Quintet Featuring Buddy Collette” isn’t a bad album, and fans of Chico and 50s creative west coast jazz in general, may want to get this, but for somebody looking for their first Chico Hamilton record, this is not the one to get.

MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue

Album · 1959 · Cool Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
What was "Kind of Blue" at the time of its very first appearance in records shops? What is the same massified object (d'art, of course) today, with its reduced cd cover (but vinyl copies penetrate the market, giving the illusion of living in the past. No bonus file included there, but who cares - unless you aim to menace the stability of your compact disc tower, having the two versions)? ... so, the past. Or do you prefer to read the consumed golden years with the lens of today? "Kind of Blue" is a Columbia production, the Moloch company able to put a chain around Dark Magus ankle for 30 years. Before there was Prestige, the label of junkies (rules: to pay less, to pay soon after, to pay cash - and we know why...). But it was time for youth craziness to end and so Miles wrote his immediate (repeat: immediate) future in a couple of seances: we had the "present continuous tense" tetralogy (,,, Prestige seemed satisfied and Miles and his here and there collected combo were free for the new attic. From october 1955 to september 1958, the quintet, with Trane always on tenor, cut a number of tunes feeding famous studio lps, alive albums and collections (like "Circle in the round" and "The Columbia Years"). But mean "crime" is planned for March 2 and April 22, 1959. The scene: NYC, Columbia 30th Street Studio. Producer Irving Townsend, engineer Fred Plaut. That's all. In those two days, recording machines, feeling that Miles and friends were giving birth to a brand new Golden Boy, and deeply scared for that, decided not to obey causing a little "sharpness" in the masters, then corrected by time and man.

Since its birth "Kind of Blue" was something different. After those studio sessions Coltrane will be at Columbia 30th street only for two takes of "My Prince", leaving once for all the boys and keeping on searching the true core of life (but fragmented "Giant Steps" he did after "Kind of Blue" could not satisfy him). "Kind of Blue" was the winner. Miles Davis was the winner. The week end listener who plays "Kind of Blue", ingnore "Giant Steps" - and maybe "Milestones" too... . It's "Kind of Blue" turntables' favourite thing (and in cars?) and it's Miles' triumph. Sub - commander Evans (the 2nd Evans in Miles' life), whose contribution in the whole plot is still under investigation today, writes on back cover that tunes in this long player are like Japanese paints: no interrupted stroke or everything will be destroyed. As a result, no complex composition, but maybe something more difficult: the absence for musicians of a safe net, an endless challenge. Was he writing Miles' agenda for the next decades?

cool jazz movie reviews

No cool jazz movie reviews posted yet.

Artists with Cool Jazz release(s)


Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
Buy this album from our partners
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Meet Me At The Loft Post Bop
Buy this album from MMA partners
Standards and My Songs Soul Jazz
Buy this album from MMA partners
Satoko Fujii & Joe Fonda : Thread Of Light Avant-Garde Jazz
Buy this album from MMA partners
No Questions, No Answers Avant-Garde Jazz
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

Certain Patterns in the Field
js· 1 day ago
[Brian Culbertson] 02 Don't Give Up 20220114
js· 2 days ago
What Will We Leave Behind
snobb· 2 days ago
Spring of Two Blue-J's -Part 1 (Live)
js· 3 days ago
Interpret It Well
snobb· 3 days ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions


Latest Jazz News


More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us