The Cool and the Beautiful

In the arts and culture, generally things are either cool or beautiful. Marcello Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita” is cool, while beauty is what happens between 1:18 and 2:59 in the third movement of Brahms’ Piano Trio in C Minor.

“Cool” didn’t exist before midcentury, while since then the quaint notion that art should be beautiful has increasingly elicited nothing but highbrow ridicule. So if you’re looking for cool, you start in 1954, and if you’re looking for beauty, you go back much farther.

But sometimes the two exist in the same thing, such as in Bill Evan’s 1956 composition “Waltz For Debby.” Most beautiful as an instrumental with Evans gently plunking in the upper register, above is a vocal version sung by Swedish siren Monica Zetterlund.

Which begs the question: Is Evans providing the beauty with his composition, and Zetterlund the Euro cool? Or is she providing feminine pulchritude against a background aura of cool supplied by Evans? I think it’s both, which is why I keep coming back to this hauntingly hip clip. — CC

8 Comments on "The Cool and the Beautiful"

  1. As a Swede it’s really great to see Monica Zetterlund getting some attention!

    If you want more Swedish jazz I recommend checking out Jan Johansson:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLl2ajfN03Q

  2. “…since then the quaint notion that art should be beautiful has increasingly elicited nothing but highbrow ridicule. So if you’re looking for cool, you start in 1954, and if you’re looking for beauty, you go back much farther.”

    This is not well said. I’m sure you don’t mean to say that there’s been no ‘beautiful’ art since the ’50s.

  3. Irving G. Steinberg | April 15, 2019 at 8:25 am |

    Great clip. It’s from 1966. That’s Eddie Gomez on bass. Terrible shame what became of Bill Evans and so many other artists of that era from drug abuse.

  4. Jättebra!

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

  5. Philly Trad | April 15, 2019 at 3:58 pm |

    For those who don’t speak Yiddish,
    Jättebra means Bravo!

  6. Thomas Mukherjee | April 15, 2019 at 4:40 pm |

    @Berk Breath.

    While I agree with you that CC’s piece was as always well-written,your failed jazz critic’s qualification hardly justifies your objection and begs the question whether it would be wiser for you to simplycontinue to practise schooling the feeble-minded on Talk Ivy and not interfere on this site.

  7. Boop McSnoot | April 15, 2019 at 7:48 pm |

    ^ This is a very interesting comment for several reasons. Why am I “Berk Breath.” when my username is completely different? Why do you resurface in this comments section now specifically to defend Christian after being absent for so long? Anyone can raise any objection they want in this comments section, and it’s Christian’s right to delete them if he sees fit, that’s the nature of the game. If he/you want to keep anyone from commenting, don’t allow them, simple as that.

    If you want to produce proof that I’m “Berk Breath.” go ahead. Otherwise you’re begging a lot of questions yourself.

  8. Henry Contestwinner | May 6, 2019 at 5:49 pm |

    jf said,
    “This is not well said. I’m sure you don’t mean to say that there’s been no ‘beautiful’ art since the ’50s.”

    I would never presume to put words in another’s mouth, so this is my response, not CC’s.

    When it comes to art, there was very little beautiful art, in any medium, produced in the 20th century. The more non-representational it is, the uglier it is, and the less value it has as art, regardless of its commercial value.

    Yes, I do understand Dada, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art, etc., and consider it all garbage, devoid of artistic, or any other, merit.

    But that’s just me. If you like that stuff, please feel free to revel in the… whatever it is you revel in of “works” such as My Bed by Tracey Emin.

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