Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

321

Hard Bop Academy: The Sidemen of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

By

Sign in to view read count
On the album The Jazz Messengers Live at the Cafe Bohemia Volume 1, Art Blakey introduces trumpeter Kenny Dorham by saying that he had played with Charlie Parker “The Prophet of Modern Jazz.” If Parker was the prophet, then Blakey was definitely one of its chief apostles. Just take a look at the musicians who formed The Jazz Messengers over the years and you have a veritable who’s who of contemporary jazz. Players ranging from Horace Silver to Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis to Chuck Mangione, and Jackie McLean to Wayne Shorter all spent time as Messengers.

With Hard Bop Academy: The Sidemen of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Alan Goldsher provides as heartfelt and essential study of the players who comprised this landmark unit. Goldsher, an accomplished bassist who has performed with artists ranging from Janet Jackson to Clark Terry, approaches the subject not only as a musician but a sincere fan. Along with his musical resume, Goldsher has managed to make a name for himself as a writer. He recently published an impressive debut novel, Jam, and is a regular contributor to Bass Player magazine.

Hard Bop Academy provides interesting profiles of many key Jazz Messengers. Each chapter focuses on a particular instrument. Goldsher doesn’t aim his discussions at academicians, but music listeners. As he puts it, “You’ll dig this book if you think of me as the guy standing next to you in the jazz section of your local record store.” This description couldn’t be any more accurate. Goldsher utilizes a very accessible, intelligent, and extremely entertaining style. Anyone who picks us this book doesn’t have to worry about being bored.

Goldsher also knows how to make perfect use of analogy and metaphor.The title Hard Bop Academy serves as an ideal description of The Jazz Messengers. This group proved to be the launching pad for numerous solo careers. It truly was an educational experience for the many players who passed through over the years. Even though none of the players stayed with Blakey for a lengthy period, their time spent proved invaluable. When a player left, he definitely came out at higher level of performance. The stint, though, was limited. Like going to college, there came a point when it was time to go. Bobby Watson, for example, remembers his final days as a Jazz Messenger: Blakey told him “This isn’t the post office, you know.”

Besides being a talented musician and writer, Goldsher also is an obvious sports fan. He uses sports analogies effectively to provide a deeper understanding of what the Messengers were like as a unit. Just as an example he says that “Freddie Hubbard was to Lee Morgan what Mickey Mantle was to Joe DiMaggio.” He goes on to say that The Messengers “were to jazz what the New York Yankees were/are to baseball.”

No one in jazz history captured the essence of hard bop like Art Blakey. He kept The Messengers going until his death in 1990. Through it all, he wanted his listeners to “have a ball.” The Jazz Messengers always managed to be enjoyable. Obviously Alan Goldsher picked up on the message.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine Book Reviews Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and...
by Doug Collette
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read Softly, With Feeling Book Reviews Softly, With Feeling
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 24, 2017
Read Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz Book Reviews Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 13, 2017
Read Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene Book Reviews Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene
by David A. Orthmann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read David Bowie: Behind the Curtain Book Reviews David Bowie: Behind the Curtain
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Softly, With Feeling" Book Reviews Softly, With Feeling
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "Beyond Words by John Prine" Book Reviews Beyond Words by John Prine
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "The Art of Conduction" Book Reviews The Art of Conduction
by Riccardo Brazzale
Published: June 30, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor