Cover image for Birth of the Cool How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound.
Birth of the Cool How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound.
Publication Information:
Page Street Publishing Company 2019/04
General Note:

On Order

Bob Harkins Branch1On Order



Miles can't sleep. Taps his toes, snaps his fingers, can't stop thinking of ways to make music his own. As a young musician, Miles Davis heard music everywhere. This biography explores the childhood and early career of a jazz legend as he finds his voice and shapes a new musical sound. Follow his progression from East St. Louis to rural Arkansas, from Julliard and NYC jazz clubs to the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. Rhythmic free verse imbues his story with musicality and gets readers in the groove. Music teachers and jazz fans will appreciate the beats and details throughout, and Miles' drive to constantly listen, learn, and create will inspire kids to develop their own voice. With energetic illustrations, this glimpse into Miles Davis' life is sure to captivate music lovers young and old.

Author Notes

Kathleen Cornell Berman is an assembler and sculptor of words and found objects. A former elementary school teacher, she now spends her time writing, creating art, and frequenting jazz concerts. This is her debut picture book. She lives in Queens, New York, with her husband. Keith Henry Brown, debut picture book illustrator, got his start drawing super heroes, but jazz musicians like Miles Davis have always been heroes to him. A graduate of the High School of Art and Design as well as Parsons School of Design, he combined his love of art and jazz as the creative director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has also designed and illustrated promotional graphics and jazz album covers. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cornell Berman's sensitive story of Miles Davis recounts his formative influences and development as a musician. With prudently placed line breaks, Berman's writing mimics the cadence of jazz, and the text emphasizes the often frustrating process of mastering an instrument: "Overcome with exhaustion/ yet feeling exhilarated,/ he knows he's moving ahead,/ away from bebop,/ to create a new way/ to play his trumpet." Brown's pen-and-ink and watercolor art conveys both the precision and fluidity of the musician's style. Quotations from Davis are included throughout ("The way you change and help music is by trying to invent new ways to play"), while author and illustrator notes more clearly place Davis within the context of music history. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In this picture-book biography, Bermans free verse picks up on the sounds of Miles Daviss (19261991) childhood: big band music floating down the Mississippi River. Horses hooves pounding on dirt roads during Arkansas summers. The cacophony of a school band where prizes are awarded to the white kids instead of to young Miles, who is honing the trumpet style that will later make him a jazz great. Text and illustration alike have an appropriately improvisational feel. Bermans verse is loose and a little bit choppy, with language that feels pared down to echo Daviss stylistic transition from the busy sound of bebop to the less-is-more feeling of the cool jazz he pioneered. Quotes from Davis are interspersed in a handwritten-looking font, lending immediacy to the text. Browns illustrations echo those handwritten lines with ink drawings that look almost unfinished and are enhanced by messy watercolors that pool around and past the lines, with drips of color sometimes making their way out of the illustrations and onto the text. (By largely limiting biographical information to the sections about Daviss childhood and afterward focusing on his music-making and the development of his unique sound, the author, for better or worse, sidesteps issues of heroin addiction and domestic abuse.) Back matter includes notes from the author and illustrator, as well as one from musician Wynton Marsalis, and a selected bibliography. laura Koenig (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.