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Lester Young, the lead saxophonist in Count Basie's orchestra and soul mate to Billie Holiday, was giving voice to what would become an American and global obsession for cool with a phrase rooted in jazz slang.Over the past five years, curators at the National Portrait Gallery set out to examine how that idea of cool has shaped American culture. The exhibit idea was born out of the 2008 presidential election when the buzz was about a new type of candidate who exuded a cool, relaxed intensity, appealing to a new generation, said co-curator Frank Goodyear III, who is co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of art in Maine.At the roots of cool, there's Fred Astaire, Ernest Hemingway and Georgia O'Keeffe, followed by the birth of cool in the jazz era with Young, Holiday, Muddy Waters and Duke Ellington, as well as Audrey Hepburn, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
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