Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blakey in Belgium

I cannot count the times I've listened to Moanin', wishing that I could have been at that session. My reasons are the line-up, and especially Lee Morgan paired with Benny Golson. And, of course, Art Blakey, Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt holding down the rhythm section on drums, piano and bass. It was a dream line-up and a short-lived one.

Jazz Icons: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers Live in '58 does the next best thing: it captures that same line-up in a live performance. In fact, being there - even via a video - at a live performance would easily satisfy my wish as a fan.

My favorite segment on this video is Lee Morgan playing Benny Golson's I Remember Clifford. To me that was a musical and emotional high point.

Of course, Bobby Timmons playing his own composition, Moanin', and Merritt's bass solo caught my attention. That segment lasted fifteen minutes and everyone contributed to it being a masterpiece.

No Jazz Messenger performance would be complete without Night in Tunisia. Blakey was absolutely explosive.

Let me preface that this is am amazing video that will please any fan or jazz musician. Now for the quibbles: there is no scene indexing on this DVD. You have one option: play. I can live with that because the booklet that comes with this video far exceeded my expectations for being informative. It, alone, is almost worth the price of the DVD. I was so into this performance that I was disappointed that it ended after only 55 minutes. On the other hand, 55 minutes of Jazz Messenger playing is like triple that of any other ensemble because Blakey's energy and drive spurred on any line-up and pushed them to their limits. In the case of this particular line-up, they put their hearts and soul into it - and it shows.

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