Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Jazz Messengers - 1964 - 'S Make It

The Jazz Messengers
'S Make It

01. Faith 3:42
02. 'S Make It 5:28
03. Waltz For Ruth 5:44
04. One For Gamal 3:38
05. Little Hughie 5:33
06. Olympia 5:48
07. Lament For Stacy 5:35

Bass – Victor Sproles
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – John Hicks
Tenor Saxophone – John Gilmore
Trombone – Curtis Dubois Fuller
Trumpet – Lee Morgan

Art Blakey never disappoints, and this album is as good as it gets. Every song has a strong drive to it and I can't think of a jazz album that strikes me as having more of a sense of fun.

The compositions here take front seat to improvisation, which isn't to say there isn't first rate improv going on as well. Curtis Fuller's trombone work, especially, is first rate. Prior to this album I'd have say I didn't like trombone solos - they often sound a little stiff and awkward. Not from Mr. Fuller!

The only problem with this album is that this is the only release with this lineup (including, unless I am mistaken, live releases) so there's nowhere else to go to find more.

This echoes the sentiment of the other reviews on here - I was expecting a lot from this side, especially because of its high praise from critics and it being the only session by this line-up - but it fell short. A band with Lee Morgan, John Gilmore, Curtis Fuller, John Hicks, and Victor Sproles being powered by Blakey could hit a really powerful groove, but everyone just sounds bored.

The album is essentially a collection of boogaloos and blues. It may have sounded hip at the time because this was the "Sidewinder era," when everyone was playing countless boogaloo imitations of Morgan's hit tune, but to the modern listener it sounds tired. I even hear that Lee Morgan left Blakey a second time because he was tired of the leader calling The Sidewinder so much!

There are bright spots. Gilmore sounds really unique; it's a pity the tenor player didn't ever lead his own session. John Hicks sounds like an aggressive yet slick version of McCoy Tyner and plays some great solos. But the material can only provide so much inspiration and the result is that every track ends up sounding pretty samey.

Try to track down the bootleg/video of this band (minus Fuller) playing in London - much more creativity in the house on that day.

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