1959: The Apex of Jazz

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2009 12:36 PM CDT
The Dave Brubeck Quartet in the early 1960s.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of jazz’s best year jazz ever, Martin Johnson writes for the Root. 1959 saw canonical discs from genre royalty: “Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out and two by Charles Mingus, Blues and Roots and Ah-Um.” This was the era, Johnson writes, “when commercial success and artistic inspiration merged.”

“They had all come of age during the World War II era, bebop revolution of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie,” Johnson writes. “Musicians who sought to be the next wave of stylistic leaders knew the bar had been set high.” And the ‘50s had seen the tragic deaths of many earlier greats: “There was an almost communal endeavor to highlight a new generation of leaders, and these musicians fit the bill better than anyone could have imagined.”