Years in Jazz: 1959

January 15, 2010
Jazz musician Miles Davis.

Miles Davis. Image via Wikipedia

The year began with a bang as Fidel Castro lead his armed revolt to victory against Fulgencio Batista regime in Cuba. This heralded a time of unease in the United States and the fear of a Red invasion.  The year ended with another revolution the release of the Sony transistor TV, not only a ground breaking innovation but also signaling Japans future lead in technological innovation.

It was also a momentous year in Jazz, with the release of several influential albums.

1959 saw the development of modal improvisations on Miles Davis’ album ‘Kind of Blue’. Previously musicians would have improvised over a repeated chord progression written throughout the song. With the advent of modal improvisation songs began to be wrote using modal scales rather than chord sequences giving the musicians greater freedom to improvise. Davis broke with the traditional conventions of jazz and produced a classic album. (To find out more about modal improvisations visit http://www.modaljazz.com/index.htm )

1959 was the year that Ornette Coleman introduced free jazz or the avant garde to the masses through his album ‘The Shape of Jazz to Come’. Coleman wanted his musicians to forget the conventional rules of jazz and just play. It took the modal improvisations on Miles Davis’ album further dispensing with the chordal conventions completely. This album became the springboard for other artists in the exploration of Jazz. (To find out more about avant garde/free jazz visit http://knol.google.com/k/robert-levin/free-jazz-the-jazz-revolution-of-the-60s/2qznwqwvq671i/2# )

1959 was a year of change and innovation not only in global events but also in the world of Jazz. It was a year that would have influence on the future decades and can be looked as a immense year for Jazz music.
Notable Jazz albums recorded or released in 1959
• Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
• Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
• Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come
John Coltrane – Giant Steps
• The Dave Brubeck Quintet – Time out
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
Duke Ellington – Anatomy of Murder
• Bill Evans Trio – Portrait in Jazz
Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Songbook
• Horace Silver – Blowin’ the Blues Away

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