Jazz Icons: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers features what many consider to be one of the finest line-ups in the history of jazz—Art Blakey (Drums), Bobby Timmons (Piano), Jymie Merritt (Bass), Benny Golson (Sax) and the legendary trumpet player, Lee Morgan. Lost for nearly 50 years, this historic 55-minute concert, filmed in Belgium in 1958, one month to the day after they recorded their masterpiece Moanin', is the only known visual document of this influential band who were together for only six months.
Drummer Art Blakey led many great editions of the Jazz Messengers from the inaugural mid-'50s sessions until his death in the '90s. While arguments rage regarding which was his best, there is no doubt that the 1960-1961 unit figures in the debate. This wonderful six-disc set, notated with care and painstaking detail by Bob Blumenthal, covers studio and live sessions from March 6, 1960, to May 27, 1961, with the same personnel on all but two songs. Producer Michael Cuscuna used only first issue dates, and while he included some alternate takes, he did not litter the discs with second-rate vault material. They smoothly detail the band's evolution, cohesion, and maturation. This set, as with all Mosaic boxes, goes beyond essential. Get it post haste.
An early Blakey line-up in the years before Mobley/Timmons came on the scene – late 1957. Lets get real here, there is no world shortage of Art Blakey records. The interest is in Hardman and Griffin, a punchy and vigorous front line.
Reissue with SHM-CD format and new 24bit remastering. Comes with a mini-description. Killer work from this overlooked Art Blakey stretch of the mid 70s – a time when the drummer was getting back to basics, and re-igniting his music with help from some key younger players! This set sparkles with sharp tenor from the great David Schnitter – already a powerhouse out of the box, and driven onto new heights by Blakey! Also present is pianist Albert Dailey, whose conception helps bring in some fresh sounds to the Jazz Messengers universe – alongside flute player Ladji Camara, who also vocalizes on one cut. Yoshio Suzuki handles bass, and old line trumpeter Bill Hardman comes in to round out the group – on titles that include "Uranus", "Third World Blues", "Namfulay", and "Backgammon".
The 1988 edition of The Jazz Messengers, which drummer Art Blakey had been leading for 33 years, showed a great deal of promise. Comprised of trumpeter Philip Harper (soon to form The Harper Brothers), trombonist Robin Eubanks, the tenor of Javon Jackson, pianist Benny Green and bassist Peter Washington, this band (whose average age without counting Blakey was around 25) performs one original apiece by Green and Jackson along with five older songs on this enjoyable release. The music may not have contained too many surprises or been startlingly new, but the results are quite pleasing.
A hard-swinging cooker from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – recorded during the landmark year of 1957 – when Blakey's group was open to recording for a number of different labels, in a number of different settings! The set was originally done for the west coast stalwart Pacific Jazz, but it's got a sound that's much more in the hardbop mode of the New York scene – all the fire and intensity that Blakey first cooked up for Blue Note, cast out with a slight sense of openness here in the less iconic setting. Players include Jackie McLean on alto, Bill Hardman on trumpet, and Sam Dockery on piano – and the album's right up there with Vik/RCA, Savoy, and Chess material they cut at the time.
After several years of few recordings, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers re-emerged with totally new personnel on this Prestige LP. The strongest performance is a quartet feature for the great trumpeter Woody Shaw on "I Can't Get Started," but the other three selections (which include such musicians as George Cables or John Hicks on keyboards, bassist Stanley Clarke and Ramon Morris on reeds) are also worth hearing and sound surprisingly "contemporary" for the time. An interesting set.