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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1954 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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When Art Blakey founded the Jazz Messengers, his initial goal was to not only make his mark on the hard bop scene, but to always bring younger players into the fold, nurture them, and send them out as leaders in their own right. Pianist Horace Silver, trumpeter Clifford Brown, and saxophonist Lou Donaldson were somewhat established, but skyrocketed into stardom after this band switched personnel. Perhaps the most acclaimed combo of Blakey's next to the latter-period bands with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter, the pre-Messengers quintet heard on this first volume of live club dates at Birdland in New York City provides solid evidence to the assertion that this ensemble was a one of a kind group the likes of which was not heard until the mid-'60s Miles Davis Quintet. Three of Silver's greatest contributions to jazz before he turned to original soul and funkier sounds are here. "Split Kick" (introduced by the erudite Pee Wee Marquette) is a definitive hard bop vehicle, as Brown and Donaldson dig into their melody and solo lines with deep affection and joy for this music. "Quicksilver" is more of the same as the horns play in unison and pull the famous lyrical quote from "Hey, You Beautiful Doll." "Mayreh" is a happy reharmonized version of "All God's Children Got Rhythm," hard bop at its best, with Brown on fire. Of course, Donaldson's forte is soul, as emphasized during the slow "Blues," assimilating Charlie Parker's cooled tones nicely. A near ten-minute "A Night in Tunisia" establishes the loose-tight concept Blakey patented as he dominates the bandstand in loudness. J.J. Johnson's "Wee-Dot" is as definitive a bop flagwaver as there is, with a short head and plenty of solo space. Where Brown was always masterful in a ballad, "Once in a While" showcases his beautifully executed legato sound, but not at the expense of his innate ability to both invent and extrapolate without losing touch of this special melancholy song. This recording, as well as subsequent editions of these performances, launches an initial breakthrough for Blakey and modern jazz in general, and defines the way jazz music could be heard for decades thereafter. Everybody must own copies of all volumes of A Night at Birdland. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1954 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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On this follow-up volume of recordings done live at Birdland from the second-edition "Jazz Messengers" (officially the Art Blakey Quintet), there are extraordinary high points, along with low points that either result from tiredness or a lack or preparation. With trumpeter Clifford Brown taking over briefly for Donald Byrd, and alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson in the fray post-Hank Mobley, the band has a very different sound, though pianist Horace Silver, Blakey, and bassist Curly Russell (sitting in for Doug Watkins on these recordings only) are solid as a rock. There's some quintessential bop and hard bop in this set, inspired and hard-charging as one might expect, but the Latin tinge of the original band is gone. Because of Donaldson's predilection for the sound of Charlie Parker, the pure bebop sound is unrelentingly infused into the music. Where "Now's the Time" works well in a relaxed harmonic stance from Brown and Donaldson, you can't help but notice that the amped-up "Confirmation" has sloppily missed notes in the melody, while "The Way You Look Tonight" (included on later reissues) is really loose as the horns come in tentatively and unsure. "Wee-Dot" fares much better in an assertive, bright sound that clearly is more practiced, representing hard bop at its finest. Donaldson is clearly the dominant player here, with Brown surprisingly taking a back seat, as the strong ballad "If I Had You" has the altoist alternately singing, sighing, and brilliantly extrapolating on his horn à la Bird. They play together quite well on the signature version of Silver's jaunty hard bop anthem "Quicksilver," which famously quotes "Oh You Beautiful Doll," and "Lou's Blues" (another bonus track) is a quick unison bop for the appropriate end game. The additional tracks expose the flaws in this very short-lived edition of the Blakey-led combo, but the rest is good enough to carry the estimable reputation of this legendary band. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Pop - Verschenen op 16 februari 1999 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 2007 | Riverside

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1999 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 2011 | Original Jazz Classics

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1982 | Fantasy Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 28 maart 2014 | All Time Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 2000 | CoolNote

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1997 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 26 juli 2013 | Jazz Classics

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Wereldmuziek - Verschenen op 26 februari 2019 | RevOla

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1988 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1991 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz - Verschenen op 5 januari 2018 | Resurfaced Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 28 augustus 2020 | Sunny Side of the Street

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Jazz - Verschenen op 6 oktober 2017 | AVID Entertainment

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 januari 1964 | Verve Reissues

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Bebop - Verschenen op 1 januari 1956 | Columbia - Legacy

The very first edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers was unfortunately short-lived, and as excellent as they were collectively, it was the beginning of a trend for the members of this group to come and go. Unbeknown to Blakey at the time, he would become a champion for bringing talent from the high minor leagues to full-blown jazz-star status, starting with this band featuring Detroit trumpeter Donald Byrd, East coast tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, and pianist Horace Silver, a jazz legend ever after. It's evident that although there is much cohesion in the group, Byrd's star was on the rise the fastest, and he would leave shortly, replaced briefly by Clifford Brown, then Kenny Dorham. What is most remarkable in this first recording for the band is how several of these selections have become classic hard bop vehicles, revered and replayed by thousands of bands worldwide. "Nica's Dream" is the best known of them all, typical of the calypso beats Blakey favored at the time, with a singsong, hummable melody led by Byrd that is pure soul personified and drenched in unrequited blues. Their take of "The End of a Love Affair" is one of those arrangements that would be hard to top, filled with deft rhythm changes and a distinctive group signature sound identified by the Mobley-Byrd tandem. "Ecaroh" ("Horace" spelled backwards) keeps the Latin beat but puts in a breezier context, a simple beauty of a tune only the pianist and Blakey could have conceived, and called their own at the time. "Infra Rae" is a quintessential hard bop workout, and "Hank's Symphony," while not a classic, is innovative in that it uses an Asian-inspired introduction, an Afro-Cuban base, and a force like a wild hurricane via Blakey's fast, inspired, cut-loose drumming. In retrospect, the Jazz Messengers could easily be tagged the eighth wonder of the world, starting with this finely crafted first effort that definitely stands the test of time. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo