- Time Will Tell
- My One and Only Love
- Dr. J.
- Along Came Betty
- Stairway To the Stars
- Free For All
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With a career as a bandleader that spanned over a half-century, Art Blakey specialized in recruiting young players, encouraging them to compose and arrange for his band, and teaching them the fundamentals that helped make them successful. It's no wonder that so many musicians who worked with the drummer went on to landing record deals and great careers of their own. The previously unissued live performances in this two-CD set (originally recorded for radio broadcast in two clubs in the Netherlands) feature portions of three separate sets with different lineups. Blakey provides the perfect pulse for his men throughout each date, inspiring them to take chances and play their best. The first five songs, from 1978 feature trumpeter Valery Ponomarev, tenor saxophonist David Schnitter, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, pianist James Williams, and bassist Dennis Irwin. Watson, who joined Blakey after finishing his music degree at the University of Miami, is in top form and contributed the driving "Time Will Tell" and "E.T.A.," the latter which became one of his signature songs. Ponomarev is superb in his showcase with the rhythm section on muted horn in an extended workout of the standard "My One and Only Love." Williams contributed the hip, funky "Dr. J." For the 1980 concert, Billy Pierce takes over on tenor and Charles Fambrough on bass. Most of this set features songs long in Blakey's book (including "Along Came Betty," a hard-charging "Blues March," and "Free For All"), though Williams' "1977 A.D." explodes out of the gate and deserves to be better known. The 1983 show has four new members: trumpeter Terence Blanchard, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, tenor and soprano saxophonist Jean Toussaint, and pianist Johnny O'Neal. Fambrough's "Little Man" opens deceptively in a quiet manner, eventually reaching a feverish climax midway with Toussaint's blazing soprano. Toussaint also steals the show on his smaller instrument in yet another rendition of Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'," a jazz classic that never gets old. No matter how many times Art Blakey played his repertoire with his various units of the Jazz Messengers, the music remained fresh because of the lessons he taught the budding young jazzmen. This rewarding collection adds a new chapter to Art Blakey's already extensive discography.
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Naxos brings back the invigorating music of The Jazz Messengers and captures their enthusiasm and zeal on recording. The Sesjun sessions were a mixture of the tried & true - such as "Blues March" & "Free for All". This 2 disc set has done an amazing job of remastering these sessions and you can hear the horns, upfront & deep bass and of course, Blakey's drums get all the attention they deserve. The Sesjun sessions will be true delight for any jazz fan.
Here's another incredible set of live tracks from the Sesjun Radio Shows, this time featuring hard bop drumming legend Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. Captured in four different sessions in the Netherlands between 1978 and 1983, about a decade before his death in 1990. The sets show an aging jazz player still in his prime, surrounded by a younger team of musicians like Bobby Watson, David Schnitter, Jean Toussaint, and Donald Harrison on saxes, along with a host of others. The music is spot on hard bop jazz, with soulful horns blaring and Blakey pounding away with his incessant and forceful rhythms. Sound quality-wise, it couldn't get much better for a live radio show, no complaints here. A must have for fans of classic Blue Note-era hard bop.
One invariably associates Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with the classic 1950s and 1960s Blue Note albums through which they defined the essence of hard bop. Yet even when jazz music was knocked off its perch after that halcyon era, Blakey kept the hard bop flame burning bright in ensuing decades, periodically restocking the Messengers with fresh young talent. This double-CD set captures the band in the Netherlands in 1978, 1980 and 1983 concerts that were thankfully recorded for a national radio program. They provide compelling evidence that Blakey remained just as potent a musician as a bandleader during these so-called "wilderness years." As he had done for the likes of Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter in earlier decades, Blakey provided a platform for such up-and-coming musicians as Bobby Watson, James Williams, Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison to establish reputations during the period covered by these recordings. While comparisons with their forebears are inevitable (if pointless), suffice to say that these latter-day Messengers swung plenty hard and soulful themselves, whether covering classic Jazz Messengers tunes "Blues March" and "Moanin," or keeping things a bit more contemporary with intriguing originals penned by Watson, Williams and bassist Charles Fambrough. Blakey is in fine fettle throughout, as powerful as ever, yet also exhibiting the subtlety and finesse for which he rarely got credit. His interplay with Fambrough is especially inventive, and one can sense the sheer joy they derived from playing together. All in all, this is a top-shelf Messengers release, one that will sit proudly on the shelf with all of those Art Blakey Blue Notes.