Thursday 7th November 2019
£25.00 - £42.50
James Pearson - piano
Sam Burgess - bass
Chris Higginbottom - drums
Alex Garnett - saxophone
Freddie Gavita - trumpet
It has been named jazz’s greatest year and there was definitely something in the air in 1959 and it wasn’t only NASA: Castro took over Cuba, Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, Pan Am started regular flights around the world and NASA sent 7 astronauts into space.
Ronnie Scott’s, the cornerstone of the UK jazz scene was founded in 1959. The idea of opening a jazz club along the lines of the intimate and bustling venues of New York’s 52nd Street was hatched by two ardent jazz fans who happened to be very much part of a burgeoning modern jazz movement of the late fifties: tenor saxophonist Ronnie Scott who had since the late forties, wowed the bebop brigade in a series of bands commencing with the nine-piece which featured his business partner to be and fellow saxophonist Pete King.
Three greats of jazz died – Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Sidney Bechet but born out of so much world turmoil were a spate of jazz masterpieces.
This was Blakey's first album for Blue Note in several years, after a period of recording for a miscellany of labels, and marked both a homecoming and a fresh start. Originally the LP was self-titled, but the instant popularity of the bluesy opening track "Moanin'" (by pianist Bobby Timmons) led to its becoming known by that title.
The rest of the originals are by saxophonist Benny Golson (who was not with the Jazz Messengers for long, this being the only American album on which he is featured). "Are You Real?" is a propulsive thirty-two-bar piece with a four-bar tag, featuring two-part writing for Golson and trumpeter Lee Morgan. "Along Came Betty" is a more lyrical, long-lined piece, almost serving as the album's ballad. "The Drum Thunder Suite" is a feature for Blakey, in three movements: "Drum Thunder"; "Cry a Blue Tear"; and "Harlem's Disciples". "Blues March" calls on the feeling of the New Orleans marching bands, and the album finishes on its only standard, an unusually brisk reading of "Come Rain or Come Shine". Of the originals on the album, all but the "Drum Thunder Suite" became staples of the Messengers book, even after Timmons and Golson were gone. Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in his meticulous Hackensack studios, this recording reflects the hallmark precision associated with that engineer – on the reissue there is a brief conversation between Lee Morgan and Rudy Van Gelder going over Morgan's solo.
The album stands as one of the archetypal hard bop albums of the era, for the intensity of Blakey's drumming and the work of Morgan, Golson and Timmons, and for its combination of old-fashioned gospel and blues influences with a sophisticated modern jazz sensibility. The album was identified by jazz critic Scott Yanow as one of the 17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings.
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