1959 was the year of great recordings including “Mingus Ah Um”, Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out”, “Art Pepper + Eleven” featuring fantastic arrangements by Marty Paich, Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come”, and the iconic “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Each of these had a huge influence on jazz as the be-bop era was waning and players were seeking new directions.
One record that is less noted but no less important is Babatunde Olatunji’s “Drums of Passion” recorded in 1959 and released in February of 1960. One of the first “world music” albums recorded in the USA, it sold over five million copies.
The late Tom Terrell argued that Drums of Passion was “note for note, rhythm for rhythm, groove for groove, vibe for vibe, and influence for influence—the single most important recording of the last century.”
Jazz and pop music certainly moved toward more African-influenced grooves during the 60’s and beyond. Santana actually covered one song, “Jin-Go-Lo-Ba”, from this record in 1969, as did FatBoy Slim in 2004. Give this one a listen and let me know your thoughts.