CD: Art Blakey, Paris Jam Session


Drummer Art Blakey and his legendary Jazz Messengers ran a gospelly boppish repertoire according to formula for decades. What marked out particular sessions were the soloists - just about everybody in hard bop, from Lee Morgan to a teenage Wynton Marsalis. Morgan is in blustery, belligerent form on this Paris live session from 1959, one of the most exciting of a group of Universal reissues themed on Paris. The city offered a haven to jazz musicians who didn't fit elsewhere. One of the most famous, pianist Bud Powell, guests on two tracks here, delivering a couple of pungent bop solos on his own pieces Dance of the Infidels and In Walked Bud. Young French saxophone guest Barney Wilen plays with a broad Jackie McLean-ish freedom. But the heated live-show informality is really stoked by Blakey's elemental (or maybe just mental) drumming and some spine-tingling improvising by the young Wayne Shorter, unintentional reed-squeaks and all. When Shorter's gruff, gargling tenor sax barges in after the theme of a demented Night in Tunisia, the roar from the crowd takes you right into the front row, and Blakey's fire threatens to blast him into orbit.


John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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