Best of 1958: #20 – 11

20. One Dozen Berrys

One Dozen Berrys

Artist: Chuck Berry

Genre: Rock and Roll

Made up of re-recordings, previously released material and five brand new ones, Chuck Berry’s sophomore LP finds the godfather of rock & roll in rare instrumental form. This may be the finest group recording that Berry and his bands ever released. As usual, his guitar is infectious — everyone from Keith Richards to Curt Kirkwood owe Chuck a piece of their career. Continue reading…

19. Thelonious in Action

Thelonious in Action album review

ArtistThelonious Monk

Genre: Hard Bop

Recorded at the same 8/7/58 Five Spot Café concert that produced the more famous MisteriosoThelonious in Action once again finds the Thelonious Monk Quartet operating at peak efficiency. Although history dictates that Misterioso is the superior product, every Monk recording is worth owning, and this lesser-known companion LP is no different. Continue reading…

18. Ascenseur pour l’échafaud


ArtistMiles Davis

Genre: Cool Jazz

Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (English translation: Elevator to the Gallows) is a taut film noir originally released in 1958 that helped establish French director Louis Malle as one of the New Wave’s rising stars. But even more acclaimed than Malle’s filmmaking debut was Miles Davis’ transcendent score.

The stark and minimal soundtrack perfectly complements the film’s pitch-black tone. Put together, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud‘s marriage of imagery and sound was unprecedented. Davis’ trumpet had never sounded lonelier, laid completely bare amidst the noir setting as if he was playing in high-contrast black-and-white. Continue reading…

17. Black, Brown and Beige

Black Brown and Beige

ArtistDuke Ellington

Genre: Big Band

Duke Ellington’s original Black, Brown and Beige — released in 1946 on two 12” phonograph records — was 16-minutes-long. The overall scope and ambition of the orchestral suite was decades ahead of its time. This 1958 re-recording takes advantage of the LP format by letting the suite luxuriate for as long as originally intended. It’s not so much a re-working of the original piece as it is a complete re-imagining. Continue reading…

16. Cool Struttin’

Cool Struttin' (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition Remastered)

Artist: Sonny Clark

Genre: Hard Bop

Good jazz played by very good musicians. Enjoyable, yet nondescript. Continue reading…

15. King Creole

Elvis Presley King Creole Album Review

ArtistElvis Presley

Genre: Rock and Roll

Six of King Creole’s 11 songs are shorter than two minutes, seven feature an exuberant horn section, one is à capella and one is a duet with jazz singer Kitty White. The result? King Creole, a soundtrack, is actually Elvis Presley’s most underrated album. Continue reading…

14. Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis

Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis

Genre: Rock and Roll

Jerry Lee Lewis’ career was derailed once the press got a peak at his personal life, yet the undeniable power of his music remains. No one defined rockabilly more than the wild man who played piano with his fists and married his 13-year-old cousin. Continue reading…

13. Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk

Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk

ArtistArt Blakey & Thelonious Monk

Genre: Hard Bop

The most innovative pianist in jazz history meets the world’s most talented drummer. Initially, it seems that Thelonious Monk’s herky-jerky rhythms and start-stop melodies are too chaotic for Art Blakey’s aggressive, uptempo style. In the end, however, the Jazz Messengers — especially tenor sax player Johnnie Griffin — prove to be the perfect match for Monk’s angular arrangements and complex compositions. This collaborative LP shows that Monk’s musical personality meshes well with anyone. But it’s no mistake that Blakey’s thunderous drumming garners top billing. Continue reading…

12. The Cooker

Lee Morgan the cooker

Artist: Lee Morgan

Genre: Hard Bop

This just might be the hardest hard-bop ever recorded. Lee Morgan’s trumpet solos are fiery, but the rhythm section of Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones is even more powerful. They provide the sturdy backbone necessary to support such bedlam.

Morgan had already studied under the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, but The Cooker was his official arrival on the jazz scene. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the young trumpeter was only 20-years-old when the session was recorded. Continue reading…

11. Please, Please, Please

Please Please Please

Artist: James Brown

Genre: Rhythm & Blues

Combining R&B, doo-wop and a little rock & roll, Please Please Please ignites James Brown’s inner sex machine and never runs out of gas. The sheer amount of energy contained in every song puts other R&B of the era to shame. It’s a perfect album for any occasion — you can dance to it, sing to it or make love to it. Continue reading…

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