Jazz in 1960
May 16, 2020 1:28 PM   Subscribe

It has become common knowledge that 1959 (previously) was an outstanding year for jazz: but it was no freakish outlier, as a quick perusal of the music produced in any of the neighbouring twelvemonths will show. For no better reason than it’s 60 years since 1960, why not sit back, relax, & take time to enjoy some slices of the jazz released in that year, starting with five ‘essential’ albums picked by Matt Micucci for Jazziz Magazine: Giant Steps by John Coltrane (the title track); Blues & Roots by Charles Mingus (“E's Flat Ah's Flat Too”); Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis (“Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)”); The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (“West Coast Blues”) and Soul Station by Hank Mobley (“This I Dig Of You”).

Micucci further extends ‘honorable mentions’ to: Portrait in Jazz by the Bill Evans Trio (“Autumn Leaves”); Change of the Century by Ornette Coleman (“Ramblin’”); True Blue by Tina Brooks (the title track); Blues-ette by Curtis Fuller’s Quintet (“Love Your Spell Is Everywhere”); and Thelonious Alone in San Francisco by Thelonious Monk (except that seems like it might’ve come out in ‘59, so here’s “Let's Call This” from Monk’s Live at the Blackhawk, which I’m more confident belongs to 1960).

All excellent stuff, but omitted are such boundary-pushing works as We Insist! (Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite) (“Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace”); The World Of Cecil Taylor (“Port of Call”); Outward Bound by the Eric Dolphy Quartet (“245”); Jazz in the Space Age by George Russell (“Waltz from Outer Space”); and others, like Sketches of Spain, attempting to fuse jazz with European classical influences, along the lines of Piece for Clarinet and String Orchestra / Mobiles by Jimmy Giuffre (“Pieces For Clarinet & String Orchestra: Movement 1”) or Brubeck Plays Brubeck Plays Bernstein by the Dave Brubeck Quartet et. al. (“Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra: III. Adagio - Ballad”).

There was a great deal of high-quality ‘hard bop’ being turned out too, as ably demonstrated by Hank Mobley, Tina Brooks & Curtis Fuller: but also, for example, in The Big Beat by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers (“Dat Dere”); Here’s Lee Morgan (“”Bess”); Look Out! by Stanley Turrentine (“Little Sheri”); Them Dirty Blues by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet (“Work Song”); Open Sesame by Freddie Hubbard (the title track); Meet the Jazztet by The Jazztet (“Killer Joe”); Blue's Moods by the Blue Mitchell Quartet ("I'll Close My Eyes") & Out of the Blue by Sonny Red (the title track).

Among the vocalists: Ella Fitzgerald Sings 'Songs From Let No Man Write My Epitaph' ("My Melancholy Baby"); Dreamy by Sarah Vaughan ("I'll Be Seeing You"); Singin' & Swingin' by Betty Roché ("Come Rain or Come Shine"); Waiter Make Mine Blues by Anita O'Day (the title track); The Modern Sound of Betty Carter ("Jazz (Ain't Nothin' But Soul)"); Don't Go to Strangers by Etta Jones (the title track); Something Wonderful by Nancy Wilson ("I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life"), and, on a lighter note, The Cool School, by June Christy, an album of jazzed-up childrens’ songs ("Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead").

And, not forgetting the older hands still playing & recording: Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster ("In a Mellow Tone").; Coleman Hawkins All Stars ("You Blew Out The Flame In My Heart"); Kansas City Suite by Count Basie and his Orchestra ("Vine Street Rumble"); Piano in the Background by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra ("Mid-Riff"); and, by way of tribute to the Duke, A Portrait of Duke Ellington by Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra ("Caravan").

The embarrassment of riches might continue with fine albums by the likes of King Curtis; Sam Jones; Duke Jordan; Wynton Kelly, Jack McDuff; Jackie McLean; The Modern Jazz Quartet; Art Pepper; Shirley Scott; Jimmy Smith; Sonny Stitt, and many others not mentioned.

Notes: (i) all links bar the first two go to YouTube; (ii) the Wes Montgomery link above has some region restrictions: here’s an alternative to try if it doesn’t work for you.
posted by misteraitch (10 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
Great post, thanks for including Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite and The World of Cecil Taylor, two of my favorites. 1960 also saw the release of Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus ('Original Faubus Fables'), which--hot take--I'd rank over Blues & Roots.
posted by box at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Well, I'm jazzed.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:42 PM on May 16, 2020

Years ago on a crowded bus in San Francisco a heavily tattooed punk dude sat next to me with his guitar. He leaned in a bit to better hear what music I was playing through my headphones.

“Thrash metal?” he asked.

“Mingus,” I replied.
posted by hototogisu at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

This I Dig Of You has always been one of my favorite tunes to play. Oddly, I'd never heard that version of Caravan by Dizzy, I really like it!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2020

Aaaaaaaah this is so very relevant to my interests

5 years later but you’ll excuse me for posting it anyway, Wes Montgomery playing Four On Six. The closeups are so well-done they’ll make you feel dirty, or at least like you’ve broken social distancing rules.

PS nothing ranks over Blues & Roots
posted by The Toad at 5:24 PM on May 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Sometimes, I open metafilter and a post overwhelms me with self recognition - plainly you have been loose on the south east wall of my record collection! Haha. It's been a lifetime's music so extraordinary that this all came out in one year 1960. What an extraordinary outpouring of pure quality! There are gems in each paragraph all the way down to the very last paragraph. I will be listening all week. AND... I've only just noticed your reference to an earlier post on 1959. Looks like the next month of lockdown is sorted. :) Thank you!
posted by dutchrick at 12:48 AM on May 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

What an excellent post!
posted by theora55 at 8:53 AM on May 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is absolutely wonderful.
posted by bearwife at 9:47 AM on May 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Great post, thanks. There will never be jazz albums as great as many of the ones you cite.
posted by Rykey at 8:14 PM on May 17, 2020

Those Autumn Leaves are something else! Thanks again!
posted by The Toad at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2020

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