Friday, February 7, 2020

The Jazz Messengers - 1960 - The Big Beat

The Jazz Messengers
1960
The Big Beat



01. The Chess Players
02. Sakeena's Vision
03. Politely
04. Dat Dere
05. Lester Left Town
06. It's Only A Paper Moon

Bass – Jymie Merritt
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Wayne Shorter
Trumpet – Lee Morgan

Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter performs by courtesy of Vee Jay Records.
Bobby Timmons performs by courtesy of Riverside Records.

Recorded on March 6, 1960.


Perhaps the best known and most loved of Art Blakey's works, The Big Beat is a testament to the creative progress of one of the best jazz drummers of all time. Now over 40 years old, The Big Beat is as thunderous as ever. Here, Blakey combines his rhythm with tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter's brilliant composing to make what could only be termed a "structurally raw" album. Each track rips through bebop as quickly as Blakey ripped through drum heads. "Dat Dere" and "Lester Left Town" stand out as part of the true canons for hot jazz. Two alternate versions of "It's Only a Paper Moon" round out the album, both brimming with the fluid integrity of the song and the drive only Blakey could provide. As one of the few drummers to step out and lead, not just play backup, Blakey created a true jazz treasure in The Big Beat.

Drummer Art Blakey has recorded some great bebop albums in his day and this one is one them.

Joining Blakey on his trip down Splash Mountain are Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Bobby Timmons on piano, Jymie Merritt on bass, and of course Blakey on drums.

This album was recorded almost around the same time as "Moanin'" which features one of the hottest lineups of the Messengers' long history. Every song on this album is swinging like crazy and has strong melodies and great improvisations. This album features two of my favorite Messengers' tunes "Dat Dere" and "Sakeena's Vision."

If you're just getting into Art Blakey, then start with this album. If you enjoy good 60s bebop then buy this album.

The remastering of this album is very well done. It sounds great for 1960. It sounds like it's been cleaned up and that's always good thing.

Other great Messengers' albums "A Night in Tunisia," "Moanin," "Caravan," "Ugetsu," "Mosaic" and "Free For All," which features one of the most aggressive Blakey performances ever.

The Jazz Messengers - 1960 - Les Liaisons Dangereuses

The Jazz Messengers 
1960 
Les Liaisons Dangereuses



01. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers No Problem (1re Version) 7:18
02. Art Blakey Et Les Afrocuban Boys No Hay Problema 4:32
03. Art Blakey Et Barney Wilen Quartet Prelude In Blue (À L'Esquinade) 6:53
04. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers Valmontana (1re Version) 5:42
05. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers Miguel´s Party 4:18
06. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers Prelude In Blue (Chez Miguel) 5:49
07. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers No Problem (2e Version) 5:55
08. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers Weehawken Mad Pad 5:00
09. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers Valmontana (2e Version) 3:26


Bass – Jymmy Merritt
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Bobby Timmons (tracks: A1, A2, A4 to B5), Duke Jordan (tracks: A3)
Soprano Saxophone – Barney Wilen (tracks: A3)
Tenor Saxophone – Barney Wilen (tracks: A1, A4 to B5)
Trumpet – Lee Morgan (tracks: A1, A4 to B5)

Soundtrack from movie "Les liaisons Dangereuses" by Roger Vadim.
Made in France.
Recorded at New York on 28 and 29 July 1959.
Back cover : photomontage - photo film and Art Blakey.
Another release exists with other printer. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers* Avec Barney Wilen - Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960


The interesting (and confusing) thing about this album is it's a partial soundtrack to the movie of the same title, Les Liaisons Dangereuses DVD. Thelonious Monk composed and performed the score, but that music has never been released on a record.

This album is only part of the soundtrack and is the score for the extended party scene, and is often credited to Duke Jordan. He composed all but one track (Prelude in Blue), but the pianist is Bobby Timmons on all but one track (the same one that Jordan did not compose, but played on).

In fact, this is an Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers album with the following line-up: Lee Morgan on cornet (a departure from trumpet), Barney Wilen on tenor and soprano sax, and the rhythm section that includes Timmons and Jordan on piano, Jymie Merritt on bass, Art Blakey on drums and additional percussion by Tommy Lopez and Willie Rodriguez on congas, and Johnny Rodriguez n bongos. It was recorded for the French label, Fontana, at Nola's Penthouse Sound Studios in NYC on July 28 & 29, 1959.

While this is not an essential Jazz Messengers album, it's a fun listen and hard core fans will love it. And for the record, Monk recorded his contributions to the soundtrack at the same studio on July 27, 1959, with charlie Rouse and Wilen on tenor sax, Sam Jones on bass and Art Taylor on drums. I am hoping those tracks will eventually be released.

The Jazz Messengers - 1959 - Paris Olympia

The Jazz Messengers
1959
Paris Olympia


01. Moanin' 13:16
02. Justice 9:18
03. Are You Real 10:24
04. I Remember Clifford 5:39
05. Just By Myself 4:35

Bass – Jimmy Merritt
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Benny Golson
Trumpet – Lee Morgan

Recorded Live at Olympia Music Hall, Paris.


This album is the Jazz In Paris - 1958 Paris Olympia, minus the last two tracks (missing are Blues March and Whisper Not - two omissions that make the longer album well worth considering).

The first three tracks on this album were performed at the Olympia Cafe in Paris on November 22, with the last two tracks at the same venue on December 17 (less than a week before their engagement that produced one of their best albums durig their stay in Paris: At Club Saint-Germain Volumes 1 to 3.

Personnel: Art Blakey (drums), Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); Lee Morgan (trumpet), Bobby Timmons (piano) and Jimmy Merritt (bass).

Personally, the Jazz In Paris - 1958 Paris Olympia is a better album because the two additional tracks that are missing here are well worth the small difference in price. The gigs at the Olympia were like a warm up for the Club Saint-Germain that they played on December 21, 1958, but they were also on fire at the Olympia, which makes this or the longer album well worth getting.



The Jazz Messengers - 1959 - At The Jazz Corner Of The World

The Jazz Messengers
1959
At The Jazz Corner Of The World


Volume 1

101. Hipsippy Blues
102. Justice
103. The Theme
104. Close Your Eyes
105. Just Coolin'

Volume 2

201. Chicken An' Dumplins
202. M & M
203. Hi-Fly
204. Introduction By Pee-Wee Marquette
205. The Theme
206. Art's Revelation


Recorded on April 15, 1959.

Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Hank Mobley
Trumpet – Lee Morgan


This is Blakey hot, live and cooking... and with Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley right up front...
I think its particularly interesting because in my opinion, of all the great frontmen Blakey assembled, this was my favorite line-up... in many ways were of the same school (hard bop), yet on the other hand were very different... Morgan, for example had a bit of Dizzy Gillespie old school bop in him... Mobley bopped and swung, but also took advantage in a different way... as a horn section they're really tight and powerful, and blacked by Blakey's unique "time keeping" + backbeat style drumming adapted to the context of modern Jazz, they're cooking. Jymie Merritt's bass playing is up on - - Bobby Timmons is... well, Bobby Timmons - - bluesy, Monkish at times, but a very fluent cooker and born with a left hand comp that really gave the Blakey sound the Blakey sound (what more can I say...?) -- last but definitely not least, Blakey's having a good time, though I don't quite get the high hat thing on "Justice" - -but heck...all the other tunes make up for it... and also its a live recording... bands take time to warm up... CLOSE YOUR EYES is the point in the performance where the band is really full gear and the band is tightest and most together... in the groove yet stretched out... of course, emcee PeeWee Marquette is also an important part of the show and demonstrates that there was once a time when Jazz was music to move to and get people excited, not BGM for checking your blackberry and texting. - - The first set climaxes with Just Coolin', which is one of the best Blakey vehicles of the set (the interplay in the beginning, and his trade mark high hat wap and chick-a-chee swing with the explosive press roll on the turn around and those distinct accents he used to do to push the soloist without losing the groove that NO ONE could like him...

Vol. 2 is even hotter and brighter, starting with the bouncy St. Thomas-ish rhythm change Chicken' and Dumplins...
and climaxing with the intense minor key Art's Revelation, a vehicle for a "Caravan" like solo for him to show off his solos and rhythms (unlike Buddy Rich, Blakey albums were about the overall ensemble that Blakey shaped in his image, not Blakey's solos, but Blakey solos were always delightful nonetheless and proved why they called him The Volcano!)

All in all, imagine if you could go back in time to the '50s and catch Blakey in his prime at a hot smokey Jazz club in NYC... imagine... imagine... now listen... (note - - since then they've banned smoking... what next? Whiskey... and Fried Chicken? Come on... Jazz was better when the musicians lived dangerously... and this music represents that long lost hip edge !


The opening intro by Pee Wee is inauspicious in that there seems to be few in the audience and you are expecting far less than this album delivers.

The first track, Hank Mobley's "Hipsippy Blues", is an easy, swinging piece that is beautifully played (foot tapping even), but reinforces the initial impression from the intro. That notion is quickly dispelled when Blakey lays into his drums on Monk's "Evidence", named "Justice" on the album. "The Theme" assures you that you are listening to the Jazz Messengers as if you had any doubts. The final two tracks on disc 1 are beautifully and energetically performed.

On disc 2, "Chicken An' Dumplins" is a moderate tempo piece by Ray Bryant and moved along by Art's Latin-flavored, rhythmic playing. When Mobley comes in on his tenor the tune takes on a life of it's own. M & M (stands for Mobley and Morgan), showcases both Hank's tenor and Lee's trumpet; however, the tenor is what grabs me because it seems to just soar. What I like about "Hi Fly" is Melba Liston arranged it. She was one of the great trombonists who is sadly forgotten these days. She was one of Dizzy Gillespie's favorite musicians and one of his peers when it came to composing and arranging - a stellar accolade considering how accomplished a composer and arranger Diz was. Lee Morgan's trumpet and Hank Mobley's tenor on this track are, once again, standouts. A firey, 9:13 rendition of "The Theme" keeps the momentum going. Lee Morgan's trumpet tone is simply exquisite on this track. At around 3:30 Mobley's tenor once again soars about the music (the best way I can describe it), and Blakey switches from his beat on two and four to some excellent comping behind Mobley. When Timmons's piano comes in around 5:25 Art goes back to two and four, and the entire piece melts me with its beauty. The finale, "Art's Revelation", starts with Timmons' intro with Blakey thundering behind him, and Morgan coming in. For a moment I thought I was listening to Clifford Brown! Bobby Timmons shines in a number of places on this track, and beautifully sets Blakey up for a solo around 5:40.

I've focused perhaps too much on Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Art Blakey. Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt were also key ingredients to this wonderful album. I am a fan of both and do not want to give the impression that their playing was unimportant because that is not the case. I sometimes tend to focus on horns (or piano) to the exclusion of other instruments and musicians when writing reviews. Suffice to say that Merritt was one of the greats as proclaimed by Art on this album.

The Jazz Messengers - 1959 - Au Club Saint-Germain

The Jazz Messengers 
1959
Au Club Saint-Germain



Volume 1


01. Politely
02. Whisper Not
03. Now's The Time
04. The First Theme


Volume 2

01. Moanin' With Hazel
02. We Named It Justice
03. Blue March For Europe N°1
04. Like Someone In Love


Volume 3


01. Along Came Manon
02. Out Of The Past
03. A Night In Tunisia
04. Ending With The Theme


Complete Concert At Club Saint Germain



101. Politely
102. Whisper Not
103. Now's The Time
104. The First Theme
105. Moanin' With Hazel
106. We Name It Justice (Evidence)

201. Blues March For Europe - Number One
202. Like Someone In Love
203. Along Came Manon
204. Out Of The Past
205. A Night In Tunisia
206. Ending With The Theme


Bass – Jymie Merritt
Congas – Gana M'Bow (tracks: 2-5, 2-6)
Drums – Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke (tracks: 2-5, 2-6)
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Benny Golson
Trumpet – Lee Morgan


Recorded at the celebrated Club Saint Germain, the formation presented here marks the third incarnation of Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers, with trumpeter Lee Morgan (then only 20 years old), tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merrit. For the last two tunes, bop drum pioneer Kenny Clarke (who was living in Paris) substitutes Blakey.

Besides the individual gifts of each member, the group forms a compact unit with a cohesive sound. We play modern jazz, explained Blakey during a 1958 interview, and to understand it you must listen. We study, we rehearse. The Jazz Messengers are very serious about getting the music across to you. If you dont want to listen, maybe the person sitting next to you does.

I, as well as many other Art Blakey fans owe a debt of gratitude to tenor saxophonist Benny Golson for allowing this SUPERB Jazz Messengers Paris club date to ever materialize. According to Golson, mentioned in an article some years ago, he had decided to step out between sets (during intermission) through the back door of the famous Jazz club for a breath of fresh air, when he spotted RCA recording engineers making an unauthorized recording of this Jazz Messengers club engagement. Golson asked the engineers: "Why are these cables running from the van extending under the back door?" According to Golson, they appeared somewhat embarrassed and taken aback at having been discovered, and offered to cut a financial deal with Golson, Art Blakey and the rest of the group for permission to continue with the recording, which the Jazz Messengers finally agreed upon. One can only speculate if RCA later allowed Art Blakey and his group hear the entire recorded engagement, which in all probability, met with their approval for a subsequent release? In any case, I am eternally GRATEFUL! In my opinion, these recordings could not have sounded better if they were done by a planned authorized recording engineer. Many years ago, I bought the original RCA three volume vinyl set (of which one volume, unfortunately got stolen) and later, bought the 3 (mini-Lp style) CD set Japanese import release from Virgin Megastore (regrettably, no longer open) in Times Square. This new CD set release too, is SUPERB. Lee Morgan's playful solo approach to "Along Came Manon" (aka Along Came Betty) is completely CAPTIVATING. On "Whisper Not"; Morgan, Golson and Timmons give incredibly beautiful solos. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but am hoping through some miracle, there are other tracks from this engagement (possibly in someone's attic or...warehouse) waiting to be cleaned up and digitally released as bonus tracks. Imagine having located from this engagement, live recordings of: "Drum Thunder Suite", "Harlem's Disciples" and Golson's incredibly beautiful "Cry A Blue Tear"? For the Art Blakey fan, this recording is an absolute must-have.

Recorded at the celebrated Club Saint Germain, the formation presented here marks the third incarnation of Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers, with trumpeter Lee Morgan (then only 20 years old), tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merrit. For the last two tunes, bop drum pioneer Kenny Clarke (who was living in Paris) substitutes Blakey.

Besides the individual gifts of each member, the group forms a compact unit with a cohesive sound. We play modern jazz, explained Blakey during a 1958 interview, and to understand it you must listen. We study, we rehearse. The Jazz Messengers are very serious about getting the music across to you. If you dont want to listen, maybe the person sitting next to you does.Recorded at the celebrated Club Saint Germain, the formation presented here marks the third incarnation of Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers, with trumpeter Lee Morgan (then only 20 years old), tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merrit. For the last two tunes, bop drum pioneer Kenny Clarke (who was living in Paris) substitutes Blakey.