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