The second Blakey album to pop up in little over a month. I first came across Art Blakey about 10 years ago when I started learning to play the drums. I can’t say I’ve developed much since then, as either a Blakey connoisseur or a drummer. The music on this record however is superb and should easily be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their knowledge or previous love of jazz.
This is the first incarnation of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1956 and his skill at bringing together emerging talent, many of whom would go on to reach jazz superstar status, is already evident here. Other than Blakey’s exemplary playing, what really makes this album is Donald Byrd on trumpet. Hank Mobley on tenor sax, Horace Silver on piano and Doug Watkins on bass are all fantastic musicians, but Byrd’s trumpet playing is magnificent, and the sound sings in all tracks. Nica’s Dream in particular is glorious, featuring a calypso beat. We also have a latin-beat on Ecaroh, as well as the fast and furious hard bop of the opener Infra-Rae.
Best Bits: The purity of the trumpet sound on Infra-Rae
Genre: Be Bop Jazz Hot Shots
Like This, Try This: Playing the drums in front of 80,000 people