"1959 was on another level; That's all you can say"
January 15, 2018 1:02 PM   Subscribe

In 1959, four major Jazz albums were made that changed music forever: Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue", Dave Brubek's "Time Out", Charles Mingus' "Mingus Ah Um", and Ornette Coleman's "The Shape of Jazz To Come"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (27 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh, this is not the first time today that "Kind Of Blue" has come up in my space-time bubble: while listening to WNCU in the car, I heard a vocalese version of "Freddie Freeloader", nailing all the solos from the classic album. It seems to have been by the late Jon Hendricks. Normally that kind of thing gives me the fantods, but, for some reason, I really liked it.
posted by thelonius at 1:16 PM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I guess there wasn’t room for João Gilberto in this documentary?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Some of the 1959 jazz albums that didn't necessarily change music forever were wonderful too: Horace Silver's Blowin' the Blues Away; Jimmy Smith's The Sermon; 5 by Monk by 5...
posted by misteraitch at 1:35 PM on January 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


It seems to have been by the late Jon Hendricks

Along with Al Jarreau, George Benson, and Bobbie McFerrin.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:36 PM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


I don't know how we're defining "changed music forever" here, but I'm not sure I'd give that title to "Time Out" in terms of jazz. Change in jazz tends to be incremental, anyway, and a lot of other things were happening in '59 (e.g. Jackie McLean's "New Soil", Bill Evans' "Portrait in Jazz", and Yusef Lateef's "Cry! - Tender") that point more directly to the seismic shifts that was going to happen in the 1960s.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:39 PM on January 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Along with Al Jarreau, George Benson, and Bobbie McFerrin.
Wow, it also had had Jimmy Cobb, from the original session, on drums.

I don't know how we're defining "changed music forever" here, but I'm not sure I'd give that title to "Time Out" in terms of jazz.
I sort of agree, but, along with "Kind Of Blue", it's been one of the most accessible jazz albums, that's brought in a lot of listeners who previously had thought they didn't like the music.
posted by thelonius at 1:47 PM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


> ryanshepard:
"I don't know how we're defining "changed music forever" here, but I'm not sure I'd give that title to "Time Out" in terms of jazz."

Time Out woke people up, Kind of Blue showed them there was something going on, The Shape of Jazz to Come blew their minds, Mingus Ah Um scraped up those minds, ran them through the blender, and then blew them up again.
posted by chavenet at 1:51 PM on January 15, 2018 [18 favorites]


I came in here to say something about Giant Steps and I see some of the YT commenters beat me to the punch! What a time to be alive.
posted by stinkfoot at 2:23 PM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Time Out woke people up, Kind of Blue showed them there was something going on, The Shape of Jazz to Come blew their minds, Mingus Ah Um scraped up those minds, ran them through the blender, and then blew them up again.

One of key shifts that happened to jazz in the 60s is that it transitioned definitively from being a popular to an art music, moving further and further from the mainstream and beginning its splintering into subgenres, many of which were far afield from the musical conventions and influences that had defined it up that point. I've spent a lot of time talking to older jazz fans / collectors who were serious listeners in that era, and in terms of the evolution of the music, the LPs that were big sellers really had very little impact on jazz as an art form, or on how it would influence other genres in the 1960s or in decades to come. Again, it depends on how we define "changed music forever", but when I think about the aspects of jazz in the late 50s that really changed both it and, by extension, non-jazz musicians who were heavily influenced by jazz - modal and free jazz, the absorption of the influence of the European classical avant-garde and non-Western music (e.g. Hindustani classical music), the growing importance of spiritual and political concerns to the music - "Time Out" just isn't really in the running as a foreshadowing.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:31 PM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Giant Steps missed 1959 by less than a month. What a time to be alive.
posted by furtive at 2:32 PM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Some more for misteraitch's list: Abbey is Blue, Anatomy of a Murder, Chet, (and, because I have a soft spot for vibes, Bags & Trane) (and, because it's the most traditional thing he ever did, Cecil Taylor's Love for Sale)
posted by box at 2:33 PM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Blossom Dearie released My Gentleman Friend in 1949 as well.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:49 PM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


I was thinking about Mingus Ah Um today because of "Fables of Faubus" because of the civil rights movement because of MLK Day. My absolute favorite Mingus album. (If for some reason you own an old copy from before they remastered it, do yourself a favor...) I had no idea it came out in the same year as all these other mindblowing albums.
All I can think of is "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!"
posted by uosuaq at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Blossom Dearie released My Gentleman Friend in 1949 as well.

"My Gentleman Friend" is '61, per Discogs. She was definitely at a peak in '59, though, releasing "Once Upon a Summertime" and recording my favorite LP of hers, "Sings Comden and Green".
posted by ryanshepard at 3:08 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


As the younger brother of a dedicated jazz fan, I decided to buy a CD of Kind of Blue in college to see what Elder Jerkwater kept going on about. The clerk looked at the CD, then looked at me, then asked, "Are you ready?"

I replied, "Probably not."

One year later, the label re-released the album to correct the speed on side one. Yeah, the first two songs on Kind of Blue were taken from the master just a bit too fast, throwing off the tempo and pitch a hair. My brother played it for me and I swore out loud. I had to buy the goddamn album a second time. Because you can't not.

Pretty much everything Davis recorded in the Fifties and Sixties is worth a listen, and even after that he had great stuff here and there.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 4:01 PM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Pretty much everything Davis recorded in the Fifties and Sixties is worth a listen, and even after that he had great stuff here and there.

Like Jack Johnson (1971)? Holy shit you have to get Jack Johnson.
posted by Mothlight at 4:34 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


he had great stuff here and there

Here and there? If Miles set a foot wrong after In a Silent Way and before his "retirement," I have yet to hear it. Including an album that really did "change music forever": Bitches Brew
posted by the sobsister at 5:00 PM on January 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


I liked some of the much-reviled records he made after his comeback, and that's the era when I saw him live, which was pretty special. Star People is perhaps the best of them. We Want Miles is good too. Maybe skip You're Under Arrest, though.
posted by thelonius at 5:40 PM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]




Like Jack Johnson (1971)? Holy shit you have to get Jack Johnson.


And On the Corner (1972). Miles brings the funk.

... heck, get 'em all. I used to bore people with my tldr summary of 20th century music:
Stravinsky, Miles Davis, The Beatles.
posted by Chitownfats at 6:22 PM on January 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


No Duke?
posted by rhizome at 6:27 PM on January 15, 2018


Miles was a genius, but he was complex and inconsistent, I didn't love everything that he did, but the more that I listen, the more I start to get it. Coltrane was more like a shining star streaking across the skies.
posted by ovvl at 8:13 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


> Including an album that really did "change music forever": Bitches Brew

And there is my cue to remind everyone that back in 2012 perrce asked for help in locating a famous photo of Miles Davis. When & where was it taken, etc.

It turns out the answer is, "Danish Radio broadcast on November 4, 1969 at Tivoli Konsertsal, Copenhagen, Denmark - Bitches Brew Live Performance."

Unfortunately almost all the links in that 6-year-old askme thread are broken (BAD internet), including the amazing full-length video Copenhagen concert.

But you can watch a snippet of it here--enough to see that it's an exact match with the details of the photo (the videographer is more to Davis's right while the photographer was more to his left). You can even see a fair number of moments where he's doing almost the exact thing you see in the photo.

And it looks like the full concert is on pay-per-view on Youtube now.

FWIW that's one MeFi moment that has stuck with me for a while. It's not every day someone asks "what are the circumstances of this photo taken almost 50 years ago" and thanks to the wonders of the internet you can find video of not only the exact concert, but of the exact moment when the photo was taken . . .
posted by flug at 11:20 PM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


A second vote for the absurdly accurate John Hendricks cover of Freddie Freeloader. It's kind of sad that a capella jazz got relegated to novelty records, because Bobby McFerrin is far more talented than "Don't Worry Be Happy" ever gave him room to be.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:41 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


What was Jon Hendricks doing in 1959? Well, writing lyrics to a Miles Davis composition, for one thing.
posted by box at 3:44 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was thinking about Mingus Ah Um today because of "Fables of Faubus" because of the civil rights movement because of MLK Day.

The day, and this post falling on it, made me recall that Mingus wanted, in his youth, to be a classical composer. Ron Carter wanted to be a symphony cellist or bassist. But those were things they could not have, because they were not white. And that's one big reason why there was such a concentration of energy into jazz music.
posted by thelonius at 5:13 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


> No Duke?

It didn't change jazz, but Ellington's Blues in Orbit was recorded in 1959 and it's probably my favorite of his.
posted by JoeGermuska at 6:50 AM on January 17, 2018


On the classical to jazz path: I remember a few years back when I learned that Nina Simone started out as a classically (Julliard) trained pianist. She was still trying even after releasing Little Girl Blue in 1958. Suddenly all those piano solos that had always stood out to me came into focus; she was sneaking Bach in there.
posted by sapere aude at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


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