02. Scotch Blues 8:40
03. Once Upon A Groove 8:36
04. Comments By Art Blakey 1:54
05. Ritual 9:59
06. Touche 6:15
07. Wake Up 5:03
Alto Saxophone – Jackie McLean
Bass – Spanky DeBrest
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Sam Dockery
Trumpet – Bill Hardiman
This album was produced for Pacific Jazz by George Avakian in exchange for a Chet Baker album produced for Columbia Records by Richard Bock
It is Blakey’s album, and features in a long drum solo “Ritual” with a “search for my roots” narrative from Art Blakey about idealised primitive Nigerian village life; hunting / girl-chasing / and the central role of collective drumming as a form of story-telling. Modern Nigeria of the Sixties was also home of often-imprisoned Fela Kuti, who offered a slightly different take on this former British colony. A country riven with ethno-tribal tensions – Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Fulani – resulting in a civil war, ruled over a decade by a military junta, and an elite in Africa as it’s main oil-producing country: a far cry from Blakey’s primitives. The introduction narrative by Art Blakey is here.
Interesting, uneven '57 date that contains a lengthy drum piece by Blakey. This was not his greatest group, although alto saxophonist Jackie McLean was among the hardest blowers he ever employed. Bassist Spanky Debrest and trumpeter Bill Hardman were good musicians, but a notch below the others who filled their roles in future Messenger editions.
This is not, from afar, one of the best line-ups of the highest Messengers era, which last from middle fifties to middle sixties. Are gone the days with Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver, Donald Byrd and Hank Mobley (who returned briefly in the late fifties), and still had to arrive the days with Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Bobby Timmons, Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter. But here Jackie McLean shines with his usual fluency and vitality.