The Music of 1956

The Music of 1956

Popular music was on the rise, and the record industry was soaring. That explains the sheer abundance of great music now being produced at a record clip. From all across the spectrum — jazz to rock ‘n’ roll to country to R&B — great music was not discriminating. 

Elvis Presley’s debut LP showcased roots-oriented revolution, while the left-field of avant-garde jazz was raring to bring modernism to the main stage. And while it may look like I’m overrating several of the albums listed below, I assure you that their influence on modern music cannot be understated.


  • The Toshiko Trio (Toshiko Akiyoshi)
  • Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (Clifford Brown & Max Roach)
  • Brubeck Plays Brubeck (Dave Brubeck)
  • Blue Serge (Serge Chaloff)
  • The Musings of Miles (Miles Davis)
  • Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet (Miles Davis)
  • Quintet/Sextet (Miles Davis)
  • The Steamer (Stan Getz)
  • Count ‘Em 88 (Ahmad Jamal Trio)
  • Kenton in Hi-Fi (Stan Kenton) A-
  • Cuban Fire (Stan Kenton) A-
  • Pithecanthropus Erectus (Charles Mingus)
  • Django (Modern Jazz Quartet)
  • Fontessa (Modern Jazz Quartet)
  • The Unique Thelonious Monk (Thelonious Monk)
  • Bud Powell’s Moods (Bud Powell)
  • Piano Interpretations (Bud Powell)
  • Blues in the Pocket (Bud Powell)
  • Max Roach + 4 (Max Roach)
  • Moving Out (Sonny Rollins)
  • Work Time (Sonny Rollins)
  • Sonny Rolling Plus 4 (Sonny Rollins)
  • Tenor Madness (Sonny Rollins)
  • Jazz Advance (Cecil Taylor)
  • Lennie Tristano (Lennie Tristano)
  • The Jazz Giants ’56 (Lester Young)

Rock and Roll

  • Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio (Johnny Burnette)
  • Elvis Presley (Elvis Presley)
  • Elvis (Elvis Presley)
  • Bluejean Bop (Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps)


  • Calypso (Harry Belafonte)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book (Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book (Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Ella and Louis (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)
  • Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday)
  • Lonely Girl (Julie London)
  • The Wildest! (Louis Prima)
  • Songs for Swingin’ Lovers (Frank Sinatra)
  • Dinah! (Dinah Washington)

Rhythm and Blues

  • Boss of the Blues (Big Joe Turner)


  • Finger Style Guitar (Chet Atkins)
  • Tragic Songs of Life (The Louvin Brothers)
  • Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues (Odetta)


  • Classical Check-Up
    • Glenn Gould
    • Luigi Nono
    • Olivier Messaien
    • Dmitri Shostakovich
    • Karlheinz Stockhausen
    • Michael Tippett
    • Ralph Vaughan Williams
    • Heitor Villa-Lobos


  • Three Ragas (Ravi Shankar)

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