Full performer name: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers: Art Blakey (drums); Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Lee Morgan (trumpet); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Bobby Timmons (piano); Jymie Merritt (bass).
Producer: Bob Thiele.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 13 & 14, 1961. Includes original liner notes by Dick Katz.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studio).
Personnel: Art Blakey (drums); Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Lee Morgan (trumpet); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Bobby Timmons (piano).
Liner Note Author: Dick Katz.
Recording information: Van Gelder Studio Englewood Cliffs, NJ (06/13/1961/06/14/1961); Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (06/13/1961/06/14/1961).
Photographer: Ted Russel.
The legendary Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers took several forms throughout its long life. Many young musicians were nurtured in Blakey's band before going on to greatness themselves. One of the most prolific versions of this group existed in the period of the late-'50s and early-'60s, and included Wayne Shorter (before his work with Miles Davis), Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Jymie Merritt and Bobby Timmons. This unusual album on Impulse (the group recorded many great records for Blue Note) catches the Messengers at a pivotal moment just before Morgan and Timmons' departure and at the beginning of Fuller's tenure.
Beginning with the hard swinging "Alamode," Blakey drives the three-man horn section forcefully as Timmons provides spicy punches underneath the weaving melody. The classic "Invitation" is given a slow and slinky treatment with Morgan's muted trumpet providing the perfect blue coloration. The disc's centerpiece is the lively "Circus," a perfect vehicle for the dexterous horns and dynamic rhythm section. The bluesy ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is," the ebullient "I Hear a Rhapsody" and the slow-grooving "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You" finish out this excellent document of a stirring group of jazz legends.