With Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan in the front line, this was one of Art Blakey’s best Jazz Messenger units. Bobby Timmons, of course, could swing the section from start to finish. Shorter, Morgan, and Timmons were with the Jazz Messengers together through most of 1960 and 1961.
The Witch Doctor was recorded March 14, 1961. Blue Note has included an alternate take of "The Witch Doctor" with a slightly brighter tempo. While Shorter’s solo is more intense, Morgan’s isn’t as inspired as the original take. In all, however, the two takes of "The Witch Doctor" make excellent bookends for this reissue. Both "The Witch Doctor" and "Afrique" are Lee Morgan’s compositions. Art Blakey encouraged all of his Jazz Messengers to write, and the years (Blakey passed away in 1990) brought quite a few significant jazz composers into direct contact with his tutelage. Two tracks on this album are from Shorter and one is by Timmons. "A Little Busy" swings like his more-famous "Moanin’," "This Here" and "Dat Dere." On this one Blakey is a little busy with consistent press rolls and such while the pianist swings heartily. Blakey takes an extended drum solo on "Afrique" that demonstrates his power and melodic sense. Fours between leader and band take place several times on different tracks, and a drum "storm" arrives for "Those Who Sit and Wait." The session swings from start to finish with moderate tempos, a walking bass, and a drummer-led snare drum pattern that combines Blakey’s constant ride cymbal behind his more powerful drum attack.
Personnel: Lee Morgan- trumpet; Wayne Shorter- tenor saxophone; Bobby Timmons- piano; Jymie Merritt- bass; Art Blakey- drums.