1960 Briefly Revisited: AotY

Playlist(s) of music in this post: Spotify
If you only listen to one song: "I Dig Chicks" by Jonah Jones

Two of the Four Titans of 1959

There's a documentary called 1959: The Year That Changed Jazz and it's about the following four albums:

  • Mingus Ah Um, Charles Mingus
  • Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
  • The Shape of Jazz to Come, Ornette Coleman
  • Time Out, Dave Brubeck

Mingus Ah Um and Kind of Blue could have been nominated for 1960's Album of the Year -- neither were. They're both quite good and I could easily make room for them in the list of nominees, but let's get more focused...

In 1960 there was also a "Best Jazz Performance - Group"[1] category; I haven't been able to locate the nomination list, so it's possible both albums were nominated. In either event, the winner of the award was I Dig Chicks by Jonah Jones.

I Dig Chicks is a perfectly fine album. In hindsight, Mingus Ah Um or Kind of Blue seem like a better choice for the award[1:1]. To my modern ears, I Dig Chicks very clearly is what jazz used to sound like, before people like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus came along. It feels akin to choosing between an NES and an SNES.

I'm sure it was more complicated at the time. If the newfangled type of jazz that Mingus and Davis played happen to flame out after a few years, these albums might simply be interesting blips on history's radar. Certainly part of what makes the I Dig Chicks selection seem silly is the now-present and then-missing decades long legacies of Charles Mingus and Miles Davis.

Art, Elvis, Bo
  • Moanin' by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers is really good. You should listen to it.
  • 1960 is the second year of the awards, and there are still no nominations for rock and roll albums. (For the record, Elvis and Bo Diddley released some albums in 1960.)

  1. Nothing personal, Jonah Jones. ↩︎ ↩︎