1959 was without a doubt the best year in jazz history. Even if we were to add “so far” to the end of that statement, it still wouldn’t make sense, as the revolution to come will be grounded in the roots of 1959 anyway—or it will get a new name, other than “jazz.”
John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Blue Mitchell, and Lee Morgan were just amazing. These names alone should give you an idea of how important the records of 1959 were when you think that they are not even the leading musicians of the following releases. These albums were made for eternity, and their creators even more so.
Making a list called “The Three Greatest Jazz Albums of All Time” can raise the question, “Why three? Why not five, 10, or 50?”
It is because these three records are so good, so evidently beautiful, and are forever the foundation of jazz as we know it. If we were to add two, seven, or 47 albums for a more in-depth list (which we will soon do in another post), we would underemphasize how important the three following records were, are, and will be for many decades and maybe centuries to come.
First, let’s clarify one thing: Jazz fusion and jazz-rock are the same (to start with at least). The confusion may come from the preferences on each side of the Atlantic. While Europeans will most probably say “jazz-rock”, Americans will prefer referring to it as “jazz fusion”.