Art Blakey: Reflections Of Buhaina
"Reflections Of Buhaina", written by tuba player Ray Draper, is a tune on the new Savoy Jazz reissue called "Reflections Of Buhaina". "Buhaina" is shorthand for Blakey's Muslim name, Abdullah Iba Buhaina. "Bu" is an even shorter version of the name, a nickname, so to speak. Thus, one would think that "Reflections Of Buhaina" would, ergo, involve thought provided by Abdullah Iba Buhaina.
That's partially right.
The first seven tracks present a rumbling, rolling, roiling, irresistible force known as Art Blakey. Taken in its entirety from a 1957 Elektra album, the recording presents the Jazz Messengers group that included Bill Hardman and Jackie McLean as the front-line horn men. And their work is something to behold, giving further evidence of the teamwork inspired by the Messengers. McLean and Hardman exchange phrases note-for-note and measure-for-measure in the exciting and rapid-fire manner required by Blakey's demanding propulsion.
The finale of the that vinyl album, entitled appropriately "Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers", involves a thrilling and no less than awe-inspiring drum solo called "Study In Rhythm". It is indeed that.
But then Blakey disappears. Hardman goes balladic on "Angel Eyes", and Cobb adopts brushes with a behind-the-scenes support that is not in Blakey's style at all.
We find out that the last four tracks come from a Hardman Savoy album entitled, appropriately enough, "The Bill Hardman Quintet". But what a difference! Hardman's groups slows things down and adopts a more melodic sensibility. Ronnie Mathews expands the piano's role in the group, perhaps as a result of the better recording techniques of the studio. Sonny Red's bright and appealing tone replaces McLean's bop-based and assertive attitude.
Thus, we have two albums connected on the CD "Reflections Of Buhaina" with the commonality of Bill Hardman, instead of Blakey. Hardman seems to have matured in the four years between the recordings, his playing more confident and with a rounder tone.
While numerous Blakey reissues are hitting the shelves recently, Savoy Jazz' "Reflections Of Buhaina" provides the chance to rediscover his work on Elektra that may not have been heard otherwise. Plus, listeners get the additional tracks of the underappreciated and yet influential Bill Hardman.
Casino, The Biddie Griddies, Potpourri, Ugh!, Mirage, Reflections Of Buhaina, Study In Rhythm, Angel Eyes, Jo B., With Malice Towards None, Capers
Art Blakey, drums; Jackie McLean, "Sonny Red" (Sylvester Kyner), alto sax; Sam Dockery, Ronnie Mathews, piano; Spanky DeBrest, Doug Watkins, Bob, Cunningham, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums