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.
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.
Previously available only on a limited Japanese edition. These two sessions were produced by Lee Kraft in 1957 featuring the inimitable tenor saxophonist John Coltrane in two different formats; a quintet with Donald Byrd, Walter Bishop, Jr., Wendell Marshall and Art Blakey, and a 15-piece big band organized by Blakey. Coltrane was featured prominently in both settings and played exceptionally throughout. While the other soloists were all top-notch musicians, Coltranes compositions and performance clearly stole the show. His solos were powerful and confident, ripping out sequences of 16th note lines that soared over the full range of the horn with complete command.
Art Blakey, without any Jazz Messengers – but still coming through loud and clear, thanks to help from a unique group that features Sonny Stitt on tenor, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Art Davis on bass! The album's still got all the hardbop charm of Blakey's best Blue Note dates, but also feels a bit more spontaneous too – and the basslines of Davis are a wonderful change from the usual – beautiful sounds that drive the record quite strongly up from the bottom! Titles include the killer "Cafe", plus "Blues Back", "Just Knock On My Door", "Summertime", and "The Song Is You" – and the album features fantastic blowing from Stitt!
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. 35 years after first officially forming The Jazz Messengers, drummer Art Blakey entered his final year still at it. Due to the many promising young players around at the time, Blakey expanded The Messengers from its usual quintet or sextet into a septet for this fine recording session. In addition to trumpeter Brian Lynch, pianist Geoff Keezer and bassist Essiet Okon Essiet, this version of The Messengers had two tenors (Javon Jackson and Dale Barlow) and a pair of alternating trombonists (Frank Lacy and Steve Davis).
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. The 1978 Jazz Messengers was one of Art Blakey's strongest groups in years, although it would soon be overshadowed by its successor (which introduced a young Wynton Marsalis). With trumpeter Valerie Ponomarev, altoist Bobby Watson and a tenor saxophonist forming a potent frontline and new material from each of the principals (plus pianist James Williams) in addition to a lengthy ballad medley, this is a fine all-around set, last available on LP.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. One of Art Blakey's final recordings as a leader features two separate pianists (Benny Green and Mulgrew Miller) and two bassists (Leon Lee Dorsey and Lonnie Plaxico) taking part, along with the guest appearance of former Jazz Messenger Freddie Hubbard. Blakey was going deaf near the end of his life and sounds a tad tentative at times, while Hubbard's return may have been more to improve his chops (which had been in question after his experiments with fusion). The trumpeter seems rejuvenated by working with his former boss and his latest crop of Young Lions, who also include tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson.
Grand Prix Du Disque De L'académie Charles Cros 1959. Recorded at the celebrated Club Saint Germain, the formation presented here marks the third incarnation of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with trumpeter Lee Morgan (then only 20 years old), tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merrit. For the last two tunes, bop drum pioneer Kenny Clarke (who was living in Paris) substitutes Blakey. Besides the individual gifts of each member, the group forms a compact unit with a cohesive sound. “We play modern jazz”, explained Blakey during a 1958 interview, “and to understand it you mus listen. We study, we rehearse. The Jazz Messengers are very serious about getting the music across to you. If you don’t want to listen, maybe the person sitting next to you does.”
Moanin' includes some of the greatest music Blakey produced in the studio with arguably his very best band. There are three tracks that are immortal and will always stand the test of time. The title selection is a pure tuneful melody stewed in a bluesy shuffle penned by pianist Bobby Timmons, while tenor saxophonist Benny Golson's classy, slowed "Along Came Betty" and the static, militaristic "Blues March" will always have a home in the repertoire of every student or professional jazz band. ~ AllMusic