Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers
The Big Beat (180gm Analogue)
The Big Beat’ was recorded on 3rd March 1960 just four months after the brilliant ‘Africaine’. The horn section comprises trumpeter Lee Morgan and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, whilst the rhythm section features pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merritt alongside Blakey. ‘The Chess Players’, the first of three Wayne Shorter tunes, is a typical Messengers mid/ up-tempo blues. Shorter opens followed by a muscular Morgan solo and then Timmons brings it home. The fast-paced ‘Sakeena’s Vision’, another Shorter composition, kicks hard with impressive work from both Shorter and Morgan before a typically thunderous Blakey drum solo. Ex Jazz Messenger, Bill Hardman wrote ‘Politely’ and it is a solid Bop number with the horns again making bold and powerful statements. Bobby Timmons, no mean composer (e.g. ‘Moanin’) wrote ‘Dat Dere’, a slowish blues with a memorable melody and fulsome Blakey beat benefits from some soulful wailing courtesy of the horns plus an incisive contribution from the pianist himself. Shorter’s tribute to Lester Young, who passed away the year before, makes ‘Lester Left Town’ a special tune. It flows with an easy swing that captures some of the magic that the legendary saxophonist epitomized. Lee Morgan’s playing is outstanding – crisp and full of warmth. Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg and Billy Rose’s fine Jazz standard ‘It’s Only Paper Moon’ is completely re-worked and subjected to the Jazz Messengers treatment with Blakey propelling it into the stratosphere. ‘The Big Beat’ is a very strong Hard Bop album.