The Breakthrough Year into the Contemporary Period: 1959
1959 was the year in which a number of major events in jazz history took place, among them the following:
- The arrival of Ornette Coleman, one of the founding fathers of free jazz, on the East Coast at the Lenox School of Jazz; also the year of his heralded and controversial opening at the Five Spot in New York City
- The release of Miles Davis' groundbreaking and influential album Kind of Blue
- The publication of George Russell's all important theoretical masterpiece, The Lydian Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation, which received its first widespread exposure through the Lenox School of Jazz; also the year his album, New York, New York, received much critical acclaim
- The performance of Ed Summerlin's Liturgical Jazz: A Musical Setting for an Order of Morning Prayer (one of the first compositions in the liturgical jazz genre) in Denton, Texas; this work was telecast on TV-NET of NBC in 1960
- The awakening of interest in Latin and Latin-derived music, primarily due to these 1959 events:
This high level of interest in Latin music opened the door for explorations into other ethnic
music, resulting in experimentation with the elements of the music of India and Africa (among
- The film Black Orpheus, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa, reached America
- The first major album in the bossa nova style, Chege de Saudade by Joao Gilberto, was recorded.
- The term "bossa nova" was first used, in the song "Desafinado"
- Sketches of Spain, a collaboration between Gil Evans and Miles Davis, was recorded. This was Miles' most popular album in the 1960s.
- The gaining of wider exposure for Gunther Schuller and his Thirdstream movement at the Lenox School of Jazz and in New York City