Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some of my favorite Jazz Messenger albums Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, this list of favorite albums will cover two I neglected to include in the previous post, and my favorites from the early 60s European tour.

Omissions from Part 1: At The Jazz Corner Of The World (Volume 1 and Volume 2) is a live album recorded live in Birdland in 1959. The opening intro by Pee Wee is inauspicious in that there seems to be few in the audience and you are expecting far less than this album delivers. By the second track that notion is completely dispelled. See my complete review for details. The next live Birdland album, a year later, Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World, is a worthy successor and features both Lee Morgan on trumpet and Wayne Shorter on tenor. I wrote a brief review that can be summed up as: if you are a Lee Morgan fan, you need to get this album..

European Tour albums. My favorite, hands down, is Live in Zurich 1958. Of the nearly 102 minutes of white hot, high energy playing there is not a dud among the tracks, and I will put any track here against the same song on any other Jazz Messenger album. Take track 1, Bird's "Now is the Time". Blakey starts with one of his trademark thundering intros. Then Bobby Timmons' extended piano solo locked in with Jymie Merritt's bass takes the track to the stratosphere. Blakey lays back and gets under the solo, then Lee Morgan enters with his trumpet on fire. That is just the first track. It sets the tone and pace for the rest of this album, making it one of the hidden gems of the Jazz Messengers' body of recorded work. See my complete review.
My next favorite is At Club Saint-Germain Volumes 1 to 3. Lee Morgan had recently joined the group and was playing with white hot energy, fitting in as though he had been with them forever, and Golson on tenor is one of my personal favorites as well. Indeed, the chemistry between and among the musicians is evident on every track, making for a great two hours of listening. My complete review was written before I had discovered the Live in Zurich 1958 album.
Another great album is Jazz In Paris - 1958 Paris Olympia that is certainly next to the Club Saint-Germain album for Paris (but third behind the Zurich 1958 album.) The line up is Art Blakey (drums), Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); Lee Morgan (trumpet), Bobby Timmons (piano) and Jimmy Merritt (bass). There are rumors that Bud Powell sat in, but I cannot find any evidence of that and since the piano does not change throughout the tracks, I truly believe that Bobby Timmons was the sole pianist. My complete review details why I like this album. Also note that Olympia Concert is the same album that is minus the last two tracks (Blues March and Whisper Not)
The final album is Paris Jam Session. This is an historic session for those of us who are either Bud Powell or Jazz Messenger fans - or both. This jam session was recorded live at the Champ-Elysees Fontana on December 18, 1959. More details are contained in my Amazon review.

Wrapping up, I want to provide a few recommended videos that Blakey and Jazz Messenger fans should appreciate:

I am going to end this post with a link to a page that contains the full audio of Live in Zurich 1958: Newstalgia Labor Day Jazz Concert - Art Blakey Jazz Messengers - Live In Zurich 1958. Enjoy.

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