Monday, 27 June 2011

Mosaic - Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

A 50th anniversary in music is always impressive. 25 is good, but 5 is just desperate, although someone is no doubt writing about and eulogising over Burial’s debut album this year. Longevity being subjective, and music being so damn personal, in 2041 someone on the ‘net will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of EMF’s ‘Schubert Dip’ album - well, it must mean something to somebody.
   So it happens to be 50 years since Rudy Van Gelder mic’d up The Jazz Messengers. That’s the new Jazz Messengers, with Freddie Hubbard and Cedar Walton replacing Lee Morgan and Bobby Timmons. It seems impossible to replace Morgan, but here’s Hubbard, with plenty in his cupboard to make sure that the former man with the horn in this outfit was not missed too much. Aside from these hip replacements, Art went bigger, to sextet-size, with the addition of Curtis Fuller on trombone. Curtis didn’t just as another big sound dimension to the band, he wrote ‘Arabia’. Hubbard wrote ‘Down Under’ and ‘Crisis’, whilst Walton contributed the title tune. So they were a fairly talented trio, and not bad players.
   Someone said that Shorter’s sax-playing sounded like ‘scrambled eggs’, to which Art replied ‘Yeah, but it’s the way he scrambles them’. Quite. Wayne gets to scrambling here, and reaches far-out fantastical places at times, the kinds of places that earned him the moniker ‘Mr Weird. He would get weirder, and get modal with Miles, but if he’d never left The Messengers I think his time on earth would have been well spent.
   As for Art, what can I say? He played drums with such power, precision and feeling. That’s all I can say right now.
   You should have this on vinyl. I don’t say that often, but the Blue Note sound is one that warrants still having one of those olde decks, with needles you have to lift and place on those big round black discs. A house is not a home without a Blue Note record in it.

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