Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Roots And Herbs
This incredible session was recorded over two dates, five tracks were laid down on 18th February 1961 and one on 27th May of the same year. The band comprise Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter on horns plus Jymie Merritt on bass. On four tunes the pianist is Bobby Timmons, whilst on two tunes from the 18th February date Walter Davis Jr replaces Bobby Timmons. All six tunes are composed by tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The album begins with its masterpiece, the Jazz dance classic ‘Ping Pong’. It is a compelling piece of Hard Bop with superb drum work including some incredible rimshots. ‘Roots And Herbs’ has a gorgeous feel, melody, rhythm and solos that capture its bluesy vibe. ‘The Back Sliders’ is a heavy dose of the Blues, slower, more deliberate but sublimely executed. The glorious waltz like ‘United’ has a modal feel with a terrific percussion break; Blakey is on top form and Merritt’s deep and rich bass keeps it together. There is a whimsical feel to ‘Look At The Birdie’, its light heartedness is captured in a lovely Timmons piano solo. The synergy of trumpeter Morgan and tenor man Shorter is a feature of the album. It is especially prevalent on the album’s closing tune ‘Master Mind’; the track is another driving slice of the Hard Bop sound that defines the Jazz Messengers at that time. Great stuff.