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Atlantic Timeline - 1959

Atlantic Timeline is an ongoing column where we highlight some of the most exciting moments from Atlantic Records artists' musical legacy. This installment covers 1959.

The rapid development of new recording technology – not to mention the label’s mounting sales – sees Atlantic changing address once more, to 1841 Broadway, with the studio entrance at 11 West 60th Street. The new studio space – designed by TOM DOWD – includes an expansive tracking room with 15-foot high ceilings and a control room to house the latest Ampex eight-track. Atlantic Studio 3 became known for its tell-tale echo, the result of a small live chamber built by Dowd and assistant Phil Ihele out of scrap bathroom tiles.

Two groundbreaking jazz masterpieces are released: ORNETTE COLEMAN’s The Shape of Jazz to Come and JOHN COLTRANE’s Giant Steps.

In July, “What’d I Say” becomes RAY CHARLES’ first top 10 Pop hit. Initially considered to be both too long and too risqué, the single was split by TOM DOWD into two parts so as not to trim its full 6:30 length. The milestone The Genius Of Ray Charles – produced by NESUHI ERTEGUN and JERRY WEXLER, and featuring accompaniment from such jazz giants as CLARK TERRY, PAUL GONSALVES, ZOOT SIMS, and MARSHALL ROYAL, with arrangements by QUINCY JONES and RALPH BURNS – is released later in the year.

BOBBY DARIN’s classic version of Kurt Weill’s “Mack The Knife” reaches #1 and goes on to win the Grammy Award for ‘Record of the Year,’ while Darin is also named Best New Artist – marking both Darin’s and Atlantic’s first Grammys.

With BEN E. KING on lead vocals, THE DRIFTERS top the R&B chart with “There Goes My Baby.”

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Tags: Jazz, The Drifters, Ray Charles, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Bobby Darin, BEN E. KING, Timeline, Time Capsule

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