The Shadows (1961)

Categories: 1961 and Music.

The debut album by Cliff Richard’s backing band is a relatively solid selection of instrumentals and pre-British Invasion rock and roll. It’s easy to see why this was a big deal to a bunch of young, aspiring British guitarists. It’s much less of a big deal to someone listening to it 55 years later, as it sounds quaint, to put it mildly. Listening to a pre-British Invasion record like this it’s easier to understand why The Beatles were such a big deal in 1962-3. The energy of American rock and roll hadn’t quite made it across the pond yet. But Read More

Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961 (1998) by Ahmad Jamal

Categories: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1998, and Music.

This is an excellent survey of the live music of Ahmad Jamal and his trio in the late ’50s and very early ’60s. Jamal’s playing is so far from Monk – to my ears – that it’s rather incredible. His individuality in that sense is rather fantastic. Monk utterly changed piano playing and it must have been extremely tempting to play either in Monk’s shadow or to go back to pre-Monk playing. Jamal manages to do neither. And you can see the rather huge influence he’s had on other pianists, particularly cool jazz pianists. (And there’s an interesting chicken-or-egg question Read More

The Physicists (1961) by Friedrich Durrenmatt, adapted by Michael Healy, live at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford, July 25, 2015

Categories: 1961, 2015, and Theatre.

This is a play about the social responsibility of scientists posing as a murder mystery-cum comedy, set in an insane asylum. The play uses comedy and the teensiest bit of mystery to dilute it’s overwise very heavy-handed message. The play itself is so prescient (and so relevant to our time) that I am shocked I had never heard of it or its author and I’ve had to add him to my list as I suspect that he’s written more interesting stuff, even if this is his most famous work. The cast was excellent and the staging was particularly clever, using Read More

Out of the Cool (1961) by the Gil Evans Orchestra

Categories: 1961 and Music.

I have this strange issue where I claim to absolute love jazz and the spirit of jazz – and therefore improvised music – and yet I can really get excited about orchestrated / arranged “jazz”, something that potentially can be the polar opposite of the “spirit” of the genre in the wrong hands. It’s really hard to know where to draw the line, especially on a track like “Where Flamingos Fly”; was that solo written completely by Evans? If so, is it still jazz??? But such concerns are silly and unnecessary. Regardless of how it was created, this is a Read More

Waltz for Debby (1961) by the Bill Evans Trio

Categories: 1961 and Music.

This is one of those albums that is perhaps too subtle for its own good. You put it on and you don’t really notice its radicalism because it’s piano jazz and because Evans’ out-of-the-box-ness has been absorbed so much into jazz that it is now cliche. And Evans himself never really grabs the spotlight or forces you to pay attention (LaFaro does). And if you don’t pay attention, you are left wondering what the big deal is. There is a healthy dose of Impressionism here and I think that helps explain this whole mood – which is almost too relaxed Read More

Ezz-thetics (1961) by George Russell

Categories: 1961 and Music.

Too avant garde really to be post bop but too obviously bop / modal (too often) and too traditional to be truly considered part of the “new thing” (i.e. free), this one really defies categorization. But that’s okay. The playing is excellent on all accounts and this sort of feels like a direction a lot of modern players are attempting – post bop that is aware of, and inclusive of free – despite the fact it was released in ’61. Pretty wonderful stuff. 10/10 Read More

At the Five Spot, Vol. 1 (1961) by Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Mal Wondron, Richard Davis and Ed Blackwell

Categories: 1961 and Music.

At some level this is a pretty sad album as Little died almost immediately after this date, and Dolphy a few years later. We will never know what they might have done. However, what they did do here is pretty fantastic. Dolphy is one of my favourite musicians and may be becoming my favourite saxophonist of the ’60s, at least on alto. I don’t know Little well but he holds his own against Dolphy. So does Waldron, though Waldron is certainly the least out there of the soloists. It’s a pretty great set and it makes me want to get Read More

Complete Organ Works (2003) by Maurice Durufle, performed by Friedhelm Flamme

Categories: 1926, 1930, 1932, 1942, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1971, 2003, and Music.

The pipe organ must be one of the seriously neglected instruments of 20th century “classical” music, at least from the perspective of us musical naifs. I mean, even though there are plenty of notable organ and organ-centric compositions, very few of those have actually made it into mass awareness. The little bit of organ music we know is baroque. This is a welcome corrective. And, unlike so much famous organ music, here the critics can’t complain that the “organ isn’t old enough!” or anything like that, as 20th century organ music is performed on a 20th century organ. The music Read More

The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1997) by John Coltrane

Categories: 1961, 1997, and Music.

When Coltrane and his “quartet” recorded these performances, he was just releasing Ole Coltrane, so I think it’s safe to say that much of what was heard here came as a shock to anyone in the audience who wasn’t constantly seeing him live. And even when the LP version came out the next year, much of it still probably sounded about as out there as anything could that wasn’t free. I mean, My Favorite Things came out about six months before these were recorded and as much as that album is radical in its own way, it is still very Read More

Michel Brault: Oeuvres 1958-1974

Categories: 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1974, and Movies.

Though not every film is absolutely stand out, this collection is mostly filled with great stuff and very well worth watching, especially for Canadians. We can see that the Canadian film tradition was a little richer than more recent NFB material might have led us to believe. Here we have engaging, sometimes provocative, examinations of both minor and serious issues within our culture. Brault’s work should be far more well known outside of Quebec than it currently is. It should be watched in schools. Here are the films included in the collection. Titles in quotes are shorts and italicized titles Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More