10 Albums Released In 1959 That Changed Jazz Forever

The year 1959 began with news that shook the world. On January 2, 1959, the Soviet Union rocketed the Lunik 1 space capsule into the sky. Awakening a new conscious in the world that included dual aspects of the promise of space travel and an increase threat from the Cold War.

The year 1959 also represented a new awakening in jazz. After the introduction of bebop by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, jazz musicians began to explore stretching their musicality. In many ways, eager to travel beyond the spatial high-speed universe of bebop and into new worlds of harmonic structures and modal compositions.

Sixty years ago brought to the world ten transformative jazz albums that essentially changed jazz forever:

The biggest selling album in jazz history that introduced a new modal form of jazz.

John Coltrane’s first solo album was cut in 1959 and remains one of his most treasured.

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An album that ushered in the era of hard bop and provided a stage for future jazz stars.

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An album that produced one of the biggest single hits in the history of jazz and forever identified the legendary Dave Brubeck.

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Charles Mingus introduces highly charged jazz making a political statement.


The beginning foundations of what became “free” jazz is introduced.

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The highly experimental and esoteric jazz band is formed by Sun Ra.

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Ella Fitzgerald reached new heights in her interpretation of the Great American Songbook.

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Duke Ellington writes his first film score and writes a masterpiece.

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With this album, Abbey Lincoln proved to the world she was a formidable interpreter and arranger of songs backed by an incredible band.

The year 1959. A year and 10 albums that forever changed the landscape of jazz and set it on a trajectory still felt today.

11 thoughts on “10 Albums Released In 1959 That Changed Jazz Forever

  1. as someone who just started to listen to more jazz, (late in life) i can honestly says that miles davis “kind of blue” is terrific, as well dave brubeck’s take five, and than later on his greatest hits cd is also terrific.

    1. Hi Jeff, “Sketches of Spain” was released in July of 1960. “Kind of Blue” was August of 1959. Interestingly enough, Miles Davis’s “Porgy and Bess” was released in March of 1959. It certainly warrants being added to the list!

  2. This is great and I love that you put this together, and there will always be ones left out, so have to stake a claim for Gerry Mulligan and What is there to say, but that obviously begs the question, what would you drop??????

  3. Hate to say it but Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn was pretty good just won’t make the jazz snobs list

  4. Thank you! This is a fantastic list. How about Charles Mingus’ “Mingus Ah Um”? Mingus was such a spirited and original composer and arranger!

  5. This is a very impressive list. I bought Kind of Blue in the early sixties and I still listen to it now on cd. Stan Kenton’s Standards in Silhouette from 1959 still thrills me (it isn’t gone). Thanks for this collection.

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