Gabriela Anders: Last Tango in Rio

Review at PopMatters:

The music… lacks the outcroppings to enable—let alone reward—serious listening.

If this is not merely the result of lack of imagination, or the triumph of marketing taste over musical inspiration, it is presumably drawn from the po-faced introspection of cool jazz—of Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Stan Getz and, above all, Chet Baker. The stance that these artists took in the 1950s, apparently shunning overt artistic creation and concentrating on the smallest inflections in the performance of winsome ballads, has dominated much of the popular imagery of jazz ever since.

Unfortunately it suffers badly out of context: in the 1950s, their attitude bespoke a turning away from the materialism and conformity emerging as mainstays of American culture—not to mention a revulsion at mainstream acquiescence in the inequalities of post-war racial and cultural politics. The cool movement’s suave wounded romanticism was deliberately counterfeit; a tool to suggest how deeply felt was their ostracism from mainstream life. It was a cue taken up by the Beat movement, inspiring much of the cultural radicalism of the following decades.