Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Jazz Messengers - 1958 - Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers (Moanin')

The Jazz Messengers
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers (Moanin') 

01. Moanin'
02. Are You Real
03. Along Came Betty
04. The Drum Thunder (Miniature) Suite
4.1. First Theme: Drum Thunder
4.2. Second Theme: Cry A Blue Tear
4.3. Third Theme: Harlem's Disciples
05. Blues March
06. Come Rain Or Come Shine

Bass – Jymie Merritt
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Benny Golson
Trumpet – Lee Morgan
Recorded on October 30, 1958.

Note for collectors: the 1st original pressing has 47 West 63rd St. address on labels, with no INC. and no ® for trademark under the E on deep grooved labels. The cover is front laminated with no INC. on the back.
In the dead wax: the "ear" or "P" symbol for Plastylite must be hand-etched, RVG is stamped.

The 2nd pressing is the same, but it has the INC. on the back-cover and on the deep grooved labels.

Recorded in 1958 and first released in January 1959, this album was originally self-titled, but was often renamed "Moanin'" on later issues due to the popularity of the opening track.

Moanin' includes some of the greatest music Blakey produced in the studio with arguably his very best band. There are three tracks that are immortal and will always stand the test of time. The title selection is a pure tuneful melody stewed in a bluesy shuffle penned by pianist Bobby Timmons, while tenor saxophonist Benny Golson's classy, slowed "Along Came Betty" and the static, militaristic "Blues March" will always have a home in the repertoire of every student or professional jazz band. "Are You Real?" has the most subtle of melody lines, and "Drum Thunder Suite" has Blakey's quick blasting tom-tom-based rudiments reigning on high as the horns sigh, leading to hard bop. "Come Rain or Come Shine" is the piece that commands the most attention, a highly modified, lilting arrangement where the accompanying staggered, staccato rhythms contrast the light-hearted refrains. Certainly a complete and wholly satisfying album, Moanin' ranks with the very best of Blakey and what modern jazz offered in the late '50s and beyond.

There's a reason this one of the definitive hard bop albums and arguably the place to start when exploring the Art Blakey & Jazz Messenger's work, it's just that good. The opening title track is arguably one of the earliest soul jazz classics and everyone on it is fine shape on this bluesy, nocturnal struttin' anthem, especially it's writer, pianist Bobby Timmons. Are You Real is energetic fun while Along Came Betty is a lovely mid tempo ballad that glides by while evoking images of a lovely couple walking through a big city. The Thunder Drum Suite is arguably the most impressive and experimental track on album, it's a showcase for Blakey's appropriately thunderous and inventive drum work, all while conjuring up images of someone running through the streets of a city at night, Blues March also showcases Blakey's inventive drum work with it's militaristic rhythm, and to close off the album is an upbeat reading of the Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer standard Come Rain or Come Shine.

Drummer Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers enjoyed one of the most consistently successful careers in the history of modern jazz, and the album "Moanin'" is their most revered masterpiece. The entire album delivers the musicianship of refined jazz double-dipped in the soul of gritty blues, never more-so than on the title track, which also happens to be the album's opener. The song's intro is irresistible Ray Charles era soul, and pianist Bobby Timmons remains the driving force throughout. However, trumpeter Lee Morgan steals the show by delivering a star-marking performance; that his solo is one of the greatest in the history of his instrument is beyond argument. Later, sax player Benny Golson does the same for his instrument on "Come Rain or Come Shine." The band miraculously takes this mellow love song and turns it into an upbeat rhythm and blues number that would make any rock and roller envious. The whole album is a study in musicianship, creativity, and eclecticism.