Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (The ’59) #062

The ’59 2018 #062: 180303

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)

This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. We’re currently at year 10 – 1968.

Astral Weeks was the second studio album from Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was recorded at Century Sound Studios in New York City during three sessions in September and October 1968.

On its release, it did not receive promotion from the label and was not an immediate success with consumers or critics. But things did get better and Astral Weeks’ critical standing eventually to a point where the album is viewed as one of rock music’s greatest and most important records.Critics now laud the album’s arrangements and songwriting. Morrison’s lyrics are often described as impressionistic, hypnotic, and modernist. It was placed on numerous widely circulated lists of the best albums of all time and had an enduring effect on both listeners and musicians.

Forty years after the album’s release, Morrison performed all eight of its songs live for the first time during two Hollywood Bowl concerts in November 2008; this performance was later released as a live album.


Herbie Hancock – Takin Off (“The ’59”) #027

“The ’59” 2018 #027: 180127

Herbie Hancock – Takin Off (1962)

Herbie Hancock’s debut was released in 1962 on the Blue Note label. The recording session included Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and veteran Dexter Gordon on tenor saxophone. ‘Takin Off’ was a typical hard bop LP, with its characteristic two horns and a rhythm section.

The bluesy single “Watermelon Man” made it to the Top 100 of the pop charts, and went on to become a jazz standard.

It was released on CD in 1996 with three alternate takes and then remastered in 2007 by Rudy Van Gelder. The 2007 edition features new liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.

Shirley Bassey (“The ’59”) #020

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Shirley Bassey (1961)

This was Shirley Bassey’s fifth studio album and her third with EMI/Columbia. Released in 1961, Bassey was accompanied on the album by Geoff Love and his orchestra and The Williams Singers (aka The Rita Williams Singers). The album spent eleven weeks on the charts, beginning in February 1962, and peaking at No.14 It was issued in both mono and stereo. The stereo version was reissued and released on CD in 1997 by EMI.

Nina Simone – Forbidden Fruit (“The ’59”) #018

“The ’59” 2018 #018: 180118

Nina Simone – Forbidden Fruit (1961)

Forbidden Fruit was Nina Simone’s second studio album for Colpix Records, the first recording company for Columbia Pictures. The rhythm section accompanying her is the same trio as on both live albums before and after this release.

It was both recorded and released in New York in 1961.

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (“The ‘59” #002)

“The ‘59” 2018 #002: 180102

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)

Kind of Blue by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is regarded by many critics as jazz’s greatest record, Davis’s masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time. Its influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, has led writers to also deem it one of the most influential albums ever recorded. The album was one of fifty recordings chosen in 2002 by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, and in 2003 it was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

It was recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959, at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York City, and released later that year on August 17 by Columbia Records. The album featured Davis’s ensemble sextet, consisting of pianist Bill Evans, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, together with pianist Wynton Kelly on one track. After the entry of Evans into the sextet, Davis followed up on the modal experimentations of Milestones (1958) by basing Kind of Blue entirely on modality, in contrast to his earlier work with the hard bop style of jazz.

Dave Brubeck – Time Out (1959) [‘The ‘59’ 2018 #001]

“The ‘59” 2018 #001: 180101

Dave Brubeck – Time Out (1959)

Time Out marks the start of the Jemtunes 2018 project – “The ‘59”. The project’s title reflects the fact that I’ll be 59 this year, meaning (of course) that I was born in 1959. So “The ‘59” will work through every year from 1959 through 2018 (around 5 years a month) starting today with 1959.

And there’s no better way to start than with ‘Time Out’ from the American jazz group the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Released in 1959 on Columbia Records, it was recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York City and is based upon the use of time signatures that were unusual for jazz including 9-8, 6-4 and 5-4.

The album was intended as an experiment using musical styles Brubeck discovered abroad while on a United States Department of State sponsored tour of Eurasia, such as when he observed in Turkey a group of street musicians performing a traditional Turkish folk song that was played in 9-8 time with subdivisions of 2+2+2+3, a rare meter for Western music.

On the condition that Brubeck’s group first record a conventional album of traditional songs of the American South, Gone with the Wind, Columbia president Goddard Lieberson took a chance to underwrite and release Time Out. It received negative reviews by critics upon its release but still became one of the best-known and biggest-selling jazz albums, charting highly on the popular albums chart.

It also produced a Top 40 hit single in “Take Five”, composed by Paul Desmond, and the one track not written by Dave Brubeck.

Herbie Hancock – Monster (Epic 2017 #111)

The Epic 2017 Project #111: 170421

Herbie Hancock – Monster (1980)

Herbert Jeffrey “Herbie” Hancock (born April 12, 1940) started his career with Donald Byrd.  Then he  joined the Miles Davis Quintet where he helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk music. Hancock’s music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs “cross over” and achieved success among pop audiences.

His best-known compositions include “Cantaloupe Island”, “Watermelon Man” (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), “Maiden Voyage”, “Chameleon”, and the singles “I Thought It Was You” and “Rockit”

Monster was his twenty-ninth album.  Released as a follow-up to the “Feets” album, it avoided jazz and funk in favor of disco.