Dig In: Cool Jazz Essentials Playlist

As jazz was transitioning out of the bebop movement at the end of the 1940s, its future was being played out in a musical debate between the coasts of the United States. Over in the East, hard-bop ruled the day. This uptempo take on jazz was rooted in gospel and the blues, and placed a high premium on improvisation, individual acrobatics and musical virtuosity. It was bebop infused with soul. Among its many practitioners were the great Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver and Sonny Rollins.

Things were decidedly more laid-back over on the West Coast,  where the architects of cool jazz were quietly building a new kind of music in the clubs and recording studios of L.A.. Unlike its Eastern counterpart, cool jazz was all about mellow vibes, lyrical melodies and plush harmonies. It valued group dynamics and orchestration over individual displays of strength, and cool jazz ensembles got creative when it came to instrumental settings, forming nonets and octets, pianoless quartets and trios without drummers. In an effort to change up the musical texture, French horns, oboes and strings were often added to the mix. Some of the most recognizable names in cool jazz include Chet Baker (pictured), Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Art Pepper. They’re all featured heavily in this playlist, with songs that epitomize the cool jazz sound.

Imagine yourself among the palm trees and get ready to relax. This is the Cool Jazz Essentials playlist. Time to dig in.

Listen on: qobuz

Boplicity
Miles Davis
Birth Of The Cool

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
Art Pepper, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, Red Garland
Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section (Remastered)

But Not For Me
Chet Baker
Chet Baker Sings

Emily
Paul Desmond
Summertime

Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
The Modern Jazz Quartet
Elegance: The Birth Of The Modern Jazz Quartet

Lullaby Of The Leaves
Gerry Mulligan
The Original Quartet With Chet Baker

Waltz for Debby (Take 2)
Bill Evans Trio
Waltz For Debby 

Take Five
The Dave Brubeck Quartet
Time Out

It Never Entered My Mind
Miles Davis Quintet
Workin’

My Funny Valentine
Chet Baker
Chet Baker Sings

Wow
Lennie Tristano
Intuition

Con Alma
Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Bill Evans
Sweet Rain

Line For Lyons 
Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Chet Baker
Gerry Mulligan Quartet/Chubby Jackson Big Band

Stardust
Gerry Mulligan, Hoagy Carmichael, Mitchell Parish
Portrait

In Your Own Sweet Way
Dave Brubeck
Love Songs

Gotta Dance
Jimmy Giuffre
The Jimmy Giuffre 3

Ginza Samba
Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader’s Greatest Hits

A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer
Recorded Fall ’61

My Foolish Heart
Bill Evans Trio
Waltz For Debby 

Moonlight in Vermont
The Johnny Smith Quintet
Moonlight In Vermont

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