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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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ART BLAKEY &THE JAZZ MESSENGERS

Live in ‘58

TDK DVWW JIAB

 

 

 
1. Just By Myself
2. Moanin’
3. I Remember Clifford
4. It’s You or No One
5. Whisper Not
6. A Night in Tunisia
7. NY Theme
Art Blakey – Drums
Lee Morgan – Trumpet
Benny Golson – Tenor sax
Bobby Timmons – Piano
Jymie Merritt – Bass

It is sad that so few films of jazz performances survive. Admittedly jazz has never featured strongly on film or television but it is tragic that much of the small amount that was filmed is no longer available. I believe that only a couple of short film clips exist of Charlie Parker actually playing, and the BBC wiped many of the tapes of its memorable Jazz 625 series.

In these circumstances, it is good to encounter a DVD of a jazz concert rediscovered nearly 50 years after it was filmed. The disc contains a 55-minute performance by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, filmed in Belgium in November 1958. This was one of the classic early line-ups of the Messengers, with a front line of trumpeter Lee Morgan and saxist Benny Golson. The repertoire includes several tunes which were to become staples of the Messengers’ performances – and jazz standards performed by numerous other musicians.

Bobby Timmons’s composition Moanin’ is the first of these, taken at a slightly more measured pace than some people play it nowadays. Lee Morgan’s solo hits the heights, while Timmons - head bowed low over the keyboard - brings out the blues and gospel connections in the tune, and even sounds like Erroll Garner for a while. Morgan is featured on Benny Golson’s touching I Remember Clifford, which is followed by the up-tempo It’s You or No One, with a mightily impressive drum solo from Art Blakey who plays thunderously without seeming to exert great effort. Then comes another Golson composition – Whisper Not, on which Golson’s sax is less eloquent than the dexterous trumpet of 20-year-old Lee Morgan.

A Night in Tunisia is introduced by Art Blakey going hammer-and-tongs on his tomtoms and later soloing powerfully while his sidemen tap and shake various bits of miscellaneous percussion. Towards the end of his solo, Art hits a cymbal so forcefully that it sinks towards the ground, vanquished.

The black-and-white film is in good condition for its age, and it is nice that the camera avoids the jumpiness that afflicts many present-day filmed concerts. The sound quality is also surprisingly good. One for your collection.


Tony Augarde

 



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