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what are they?
ornette - shape of jazz to come
moondog - moondog
miles - kind of blue
Would add Birth of the cool by Miles and Blue Train by Coltrane to fyds list
Some classic Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday albums from the time too, and Nina Simone at Town Hall
Also the Anthology of American Folk Music by Harry Smith if you can stand fiddles and stuff
Mingus (Mingus Ah um, Pithecanthropus Erectus)
Monk (Brilliant Corners)
Davis as above
Brubeck (Time Out)
Also Sinatra (In the Wee Small Hours)
I've only 'got' jazz in the last 18 months so I'm only skimming the classics.
Bernard Herrmann - Day the Earth Stood Still + his classic Hitchcock stuff & others like The Wrong man, Citizen Kane.
Some classic Jazz soundtracks - The Man with the golden arm, touch of evil, sweet smell of success, asphalt jungle etc
Lots of other good soundtracks although I'm not sure how many actually got released at the time.
Loads of Hollywood musicals if that's your thing - I'm guessing these might have been some of the biggest selling albums of the 50s.
Buddy Holly/Crickets albums are really good, well worth listening to in full rather than just sticking with a Best Of comp.
+1 for Harry Smith (and Alan Lomax recordings if you like that sort of stuff) & Moondog
Loads of the Jazz albums mentioned, plus a few others
Miles Davis - Milestones/ Round About Midnight/ Miles Ahead/ Porgy and Bess
Thelonious Monk - Brilliant Corners/ Genius of Modern Music
Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um
Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus/Tenor Madness
Billie Holliday - Lady in Satin
Duke Ellington - Ellington at Newport
Art Blakey - Moanin'
I though Coltrane's Giant Steps would be in but it was released in January 1960 (recorded in 1959)