52nd Street New York - Modern Jazz Mecca

52nd Street in New York - the Mecca for Modern Jazz in 1956.

The State Of Modern Jazz In 1956 – Past Daily Weekend Gallimaufry

52nd Street New York - Modern Jazz Mecca
52nd Street in New York – the Mecca for Modern Jazz in 1956.

New Look In Modern Jazz – The University Explorer – CBS Radio – March 25, 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

1956 had a lot of explaining to do. Rock n’ roll was entering the mainstream and becoming the topic of conversation and speculation in media while Jazz was branching further and further away from the danceable genre from only ten years earlier into the headier climes of intellectual stimulation.

But where Rock n’ Roll was justifying its existence and being the butt of jokes and scoffs, Jazz was being treated as if it were a form in the process of growing up; heading into adulthood. And books, articles and lectures were devoting serious amounts of time to exploring what this journey was about and where it was going to go, given its then-current trajectory.

This episode of the weekly CBS Radio Educational series University Explorer dives into the evolution of Jazz as it stood in 1956, and armed with a reference work compiled by Nesuhi Ertegun (later of Atlantic Records fame and a legend in his own right), it seeks to offer examples of where Jazz was and what the affect the climate of Jazz was having on audiences and fans going from the era of Big Band all the way to Bop and Third Stream.

The many comparisons in style and point of view are invaluable, and Ertegun put a lot of homework into this one. It’s only too bad he is being referred to as a source of authority and not being interviewed in-person. Not only would it have added credibility, it would have been an historic event, as viewed some 65 years later.

Nonetheless – this was the 50s and people were asking questions and changes were happening everywhere. Further evidence the world and society were in a state of flux and music was a crucial ingredient in the grand scheme of things.




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