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.
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.
Reissue. Features the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (compatible with standard CD player) and the latest 24bit 192kHz remastering. Hardly a free for all at all – as the album's a masterpiece of focus and direction, and a classic set from the sextet lineup of the Jazz Messengers! The album's a real feather in the mid-60s cap of Art Blakey –and features an expanded sound from the quintet era of his group – with a sublime horn lineup that features Wayne Shorter on tenor, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, and Curtis Fuller on trombone – all gliding along these soaring piano lines from Cedar Walton! Reggie Workman works some real magic on bass, too – and the tracks are all very long – with titles that include "Free For All" and "Hammer Head" – both written by Shorter – plus "The Core", by Hubbard, and a beautiful version of Clare Fischer's "Pensativa".
One of a number of Art Blakey albums titled after "Night In Tunisia" – and most likely the best! The tune is a perfect fit for the Blakey Jazz Messengers format – long, rhythmic, really stretching out, yet allowing plenty of space for the horn players to solo. Players include Bobby Timmons on piano, Lee Morgan on trumpet, and Wayne Shorter on tenor – a killer lineup that's in really classic form here – driven on nicely by Blakey's drums and bass work by Jymie Merritt. Titles include "Night In Tunisia", with Blakey thundering through impeccably – plus the tracks "Yama", "Kozo's Waltz", and a version of Timmons' great "So Tired".