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MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Art Blakey: A Night in Tunisia – 1961

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Dizzy Gillespie's “A Night in Tunisia" has been done almost to death. Wikipedia says it has been recorded at least 500 times and it is the title track to at least 30 albums. It might be the most recorded bop tune of all time. Who did it best? Take your pick. Dizzy himself recorded many hot versions. All are good and some are great. Charlie Parker and Miles Davis can claim one of the earliest and ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin’ – Blue Note 4003

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Jazz fans will argue forever over the best version of The Jazz Messengers. Was it the group with Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan that made A Night in Tunisia in 1960? The 1954 edition with Horace Silver, Clifford Brown and Lou Donaldson that made A Night at Birdland? (Which isn't technically a Jazz Messengers album, but really it is.) Or maybe the 1980s version with Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis? Here's an argument for the lineup that made ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Jazz Message: Celebrating the Legacy of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at The Nash

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The Jazz Message The Nash Phoenix, Arizona March 29, 2015 The complexity, the power and the musicianship of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers were celebrated by five band alumni in a sextet anchored by drummer Lewis Nash. Performing in two concerts at the Phoenix-born drummer's namesake jazz club were tenor saxophonist-leader Javon Jackson, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, pianist Benny Green and bassist Peter Washington, with Nash in the Blakey hot-spot.

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Art Blakey: Orgy in Rhythm, Volumes 1 and 2 – Blue Note 1554 and 1555

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This may be the strangest album ever released on Blue Note Records, and I don't like it. I hate saying that. I love music, and I try to find something to like in everything. I try occasionally to go beyond the familiar. Opera baffles me, but I can't deny there are some beautiful melodies and powerful arias. Country music is cornball to my ears, but I do love me some Johnny Cash. And what is bluegrass ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Jazz Masterpieces: 1956-1965

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There are times when you have to hold back and let certain music speak for itself. This list of jazz masterpieces is exactly that kind of music. By definition, these records are without flaw. (Okay, so humans are inherently flawed, but you'll have to get out a microscope to find anything that falls short here.) After surveying our editors, we compromised on this short “master" list. For listeners keen on what the definitive truth was at a certain ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

1950s and ‘60s Blue Note – Is It All the Same?

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A few years ago, a reader from California named Charlie F. started a provocative discussion in the All About Jazz forums with the title: “I've decided not to buy any more Blue Note albums." Oh boy. He began, “Recently, I came to notice something about Blue Note albums of the 50s-60s, which was that they tended to sound pretty much the same." He acknowledged that “this is a good example of a label finding a particular formula and ...

PROFILES

Art Blakey: The Musical Drummer

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“Jazz Washes Away the Dust of Everyday Life" --Art Blakey So said, Abdullah Ibn Buhaina (1919-1990), more widely known to the world of jazz by his pre-Islamic name: Art Blakey. Blakey was my first introduction into the musicality of jazz drumming and, in some senses, my introduction to a lifelong love of jazz. Truly a powerhouse in swing and blues, Blakey led the hard bop playing Jazz Messengers from the 1950s to the 1980s (recording for ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin'

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Throughout its history, jazz has constantly evolved, developing from and reacting against its earlier incarnations. The mid-1940s saw bebop reinvent jazz as an artist's genre, distinct from the swing style that was the popular music throughout the 1930s and '40s. Bebop was music for listening, not dancing, and the emphasis became virtuosic improvised solos instead of memorable tunes and arrangements. However, the advent of bebop itself led to further reactions and developments within jazz during the 1950s. The newer genre ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: The Sesjun Radio Shows

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The old and irksome “but is it jazz" argument has probably never been brought into play when it comes to drummer/bandleader Art Blakey (1919-1990) and his ever-changing line-up of Jazz Messengers. The music Blakey and his usually young players made was most certainly jazz, of the hard bop, hard-charging variety--brash and brightly hued, and joyously swinging. The Jazz Messengers, active from the early 1950s until the mid-'80s, was an on-the-job Jazz university, graduating such luminaries as Clifford Brown, ...


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