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Music: Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’

Without a doubt Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers was the most exciting band I’ve heard perform in my quest to learn more about the Jazz greats. Moanin’ was recommended by my father who started me on the drums at 4 years old, he said “You need to checkout Art on the drums”.  I heard his week long gigs at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco were legendary. Every one of his many groups were outstanding though, propelling many of his “youngsters” into careers of their own.

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The group on this CD was one of the best. There are many things that make this CD a real joy. From the four original tunes by Benny Golson and the title track by Bobby Timmons to the solid muscular drumming of Blakey himself. For me though there is one thing that dominates this date Lee Morgan. Lee Morgan absolutely rules. Trumpeter Woody Shaw was once asked one of those interview questions, ‘What was your biggest influence?’ Without skipping a beat he said, ‘The solo Lee Morgan takes on “Moanin”. Amen.

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From the very first press roll off Blakey’s snare Morgan is launched. Bolting out of the gate this young artist is barely containable. The urgency of Art’s drumming and the rest of the team compels this dynamic trumpeter to dig deep, creating flurry after flurry of spectacular rhythmic gymnastics, artfully blending them with melodic ideas that just burst out. His harmonic ideas on this piece too are so sweet.

 

Morgan pulls out all the stops, at times employing his signature half valve technique, double tonguing, triple tonguing, slurring, sliding, and just plain carving up the beat. The elegant construction of this gem of a solo has you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation and at times in disbelief. And what a tone! Smooth, round, big.

Lee’s solo on the alternate track is a nice addition and would have made a decent first cut if for some highly unfortunate reason his masterpiece was never recorded. The rest of this CD is excellent too by the way, sit back with a cigar and your favorite fine spirit, relax and enjoy!

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