Years in Jazz: 1959January 15, 2010
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# )
- Great moments in jazz: Ornette Coleman defines the Shape of Jazz to Come (guardian.co.uk)
- 50 great moments in jazz: Miles Davis and Kind of Blue (guardian.co.uk)
- 50 Great Moments in Jazz: Miles Davis and Kind of Blue (inquisitr.com)
- 50 great moments in jazz: John Coltrane’s giant step for improvisation (guardian.co.uk)