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  Home > Music CDs

The 25 Best Jazz Tunes Of 1961

The 25 Best Jazz Tunes Of 1961

1961 was an eventful year in the history of the world. It was a time of promise and optimism - and yet also a time of crisis, paranoia and fear: a time when human beings had made a giant leap forward technologically by sending a man up into space (Soviet astronaut, Yuri Gagarin) and sadly, a time when the threat of a world-ending nuclear Armageddon loomed large.
Jazz, too, was experiencing its own kind of turmoil. The music was splintering into factions and in some cases, for some people, the music had lost its sense of swing.
 For musicians that wanted to push barriers then the ‘New Thing’ was to be embraced wholeheartedly and among its practitioners were fearless iconoclasts such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and Eric Dolphy. As an antidote to the seemingly tense, shrill and disquieting sound of atonal avant-garde jazz, some jazz followers found refuge in the relaxed, down home grooves of soul-jazz, a more accessible form of bebop that was being played by the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver and Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.
Bebop, in the shape of a bluesy variant called hard bop, was still fashionable and had many adherents and even traditional New Orleans jazz still had many devotees. But jazz in commercial terms was beginning to ail and suffer, despite the occasional hit single from the likes of Dave Brubeck. It was a time when jazz’s share of the popular music market was beginning to shrink and alarmingly too; a result of the growing dominance of pop and rock and roll in tandem with the rise of youth culture. Jazz clubs were closing down as well, signalling that the future for America’s one truly original and unique art form looked increasingly uncertain.
Despite the uncertainty, 1961 turned out be an incredibly fertile year for jazz recordings and we’ve cherry picked twenty five of the very best tunes from that year for this Chrome Dreams retrospective.


CD 1
John Coltrane – ‘My Favorite Things’ 13:40 (from the Atlantic LP ‘My Favorite Things’)
Oliver Nelson – ‘Stolen Moments’ 8:47 (from the Impulse! LP ‘The Blues & The Abstract Truth’)
Hank Mobley - ‘Uh Huh’ 10:45 (from the Blue Note LP ‘Workout’)
Gil Evans – ‘Where Flamingos Fly’ 5:11 (from the Impulse! LP ‘Out Of The Cool’)
Dave Brubeck Quartet – ‘Unsquare Dance’ 2:01 (from the Columbia LP ‘Time Further Out’)
Wes Montgomery – ‘Twisted Blues’ 5:31 (from the Riverside LP ‘So Much Guitar’)
Roland Kirk – ‘Three For The Festival’ 3:07 (from the Mercury LP ‘We Free Kings’)
Bill Evans Trio – ‘My Man’s Gone Now’ 6:25 (from the Riverside LP ‘Sunday At The Village
Kenny Drew – ‘The Pot’s On’ 6:08 (from the Blue Note LP ‘Undercurrent’)
Stan Getz – ‘Once Upon A Time’ 4:46 (from the Verve LP ‘Focus’)
Cal Tjader – ‘Mambo In Miami’ 2:45 (from the Verve LP ‘In A Latin Bag’)
Miles Davis – ‘Pfrancing’ 8:30 (from the Columbia LP ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’)

CD 2
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – ‘Alamode’  6:48 (from the Impulse! LP ‘Art Blakey!!!!! Jazz Messengers!!!!!)
Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis & Johnny Griffin Quintet – ‘Midnight At Minton’s’ 5:24 (from the Jazzland LP ‘Griff & Lock’)
Max Roach – ‘Garvey’s Ghost’ 7:59 (from the Impulse! LP ‘Percussion, Bitter Sweet’)
Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra – ‘Prelude’ 5:56 (from the Verve LP ‘Gillespiana’)
George Russell Sextet – ‘Ezz-Thetic’ 8:58 (from the Riverside LP ‘Ezz-Thetics’)
Ray Charles – ‘From The Heart’ 3:33 (from the Impulse! LP ‘Genius + Soul = Jazz’)
Yusef Lateef – ‘Snafu’ 5:40 (from the Prestige LP ‘Eastern Sounds’)
Wynton Kelly - ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ 3:03 (from the Vee-Jay LP ‘Wynton Kelly!’)
John Coltrane – ‘Greensleeves’ 9:57 (from the Impulse! LP ‘Africa/Brass’)
Gary Burton – ‘Joy Spring’ 3:43 (from the RCA LP ‘New Vibe Man In Town’)
Eric Dolphy with Booker Little - ‘Far Cry’ 3:51 (from the New Jazz LP ‘Eric Dolphy With Booker Little: Far Cry’)
Lee Morgan – ‘Fire’ 4:47 (from the Vee-Jay LP ‘Expoobident’)
Ornette Coleman – ‘R. P. D. D.’ 9:39 (from the Atlantic LP ‘Ornette!’)

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