Best of 1959: #25 – 21

25. Festival Session

duke-ellington-festival-session

Artist: Duke Ellington

Genre: Big Band

When compared to more widely-celebrated LPs like Ellington Uptown and Ellington at Newport, 1959’s Festival Session is another underrated gem in the vast Duke Ellington discography. Yet there comes a point when the term eventually has no meaning — every Ellington album should be properly rated and recognized as nothing short of amazing. Festival Session is no exception. Continue reading…


24. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

gunfighter-ballads-and-trail-songs

Artist: Marty Robbins

Genre: Western

With a voice like Elvis Presley and a penchant for storytelling like Woody Guthrie, it’s no surprise that Marty Robbins was propelled to country superstardom. On Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, he sings with the conviction of a cowboy in a John Ford film. Continue reading…


23. Blues from the Gutter

Blues from the gutter

Artist: Champion Jack Dupree

Genre: New Orleans Blues

A combination of barrelhouse piano, crack-house stomp and roadhouse jazz help make Champion Jack Dupree’s woozy brand of New Orleans blues a pleasure to behold. With songs like “Can’t Kick the Habit” and “Junker’s Blues,” Blues from the Gutter is as genuine as the genre gets. Continue reading…


22. Looking Ahead!

Looking Ahead Cecil Taylor album review

Artist: Cecil Taylor

Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz

Cecil Taylor’s second LP doesn’t have the immediacy of his debut, yet it still matches the intensity. Looking Ahead! is pretty self-explanatory. And self-fulfilling. Yet in relation to the pianist’s usual extremist tendencies, Looking Ahead! is surprisingly accessible. Continue reading…


21. The Sermon

The Sermon Jimmy Smith album review

Artist: Jimmy Smith

Genre: Soul Jazz

Jazz organist Jimmy Smith was one of the most prolific bandleaders of the late-‘50s, releasing over 40 LPs in an eight-year span. His vast discography is intimidating, yet The Sermon — a jam session that seamlessly combines hard bop, electric blues and psychedelic soul — is easily the most notable. Continue reading…


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