This edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers is an unusual one. The personnel includes Blakey veterans Lee Morgan (returning to the band after some success as a leader), Curtis Fuller, and Victor Sproles, along with John Hicks (who appeared on three other Blakey records) and the tenor saxophonist John Gilmore (of Sun Ra fame) in his only appearance with the band. As was typical of Blakey-led groups, the emphasis is on original material by its members; the one Broadway show tune included, "Faith," is from a long since forgotten I Had a Ball. Morgan's driving blues "'S Make It" is easily the highlight of the session, though Hicks' richly voiced "Waltz for Ruth" and Fuller's Latin-flavored "Little Hughie" also deserve to be better known than they are. It's a shame that this was the only recording by this particular lineup of the Jazz Messengers, as Gilmore's strong blowing complements Morgan very well.
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".
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.
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.