1960’s The Big Beat was a popular Jazz Messengers record (and that cover–yes!!–what an iconic photograph), and I intended to write that it was the start of my favorite era for this group, but I realized that I like what preceded it just as much. The Birdland (1954) and Cafe Bohemia recordings, not to mention Moanin‘. Then there are several titles released after this one that I really enjoy–Like Someone In Love and Mosaic, leading up to 1964’s fiery and aggressive Free For All. That’s not even all of them, I’m essentially a big fan of the whole catalog. Those records cover a lot of musical ground over 10 years and I don’t think that I could choose a real favorite. The high level of that output speaks a lot to Blakey’s artistry and the artistry of the immense talents that came up through his band.
Blakey is joined on this record by Lee Morgan (tp), Wayne Shorter (ts), Bobby Timmons (p), and Jymie Merritt (bs). I included Wayne Shorter’s composition “Sakeena’s Vision” below. Two versions of it actually–one from an early mono pressing and another from the recent Music Matters stereo 45rpm reissue.
(Details: Blue Note 4029 mono/47 W.63rd NYC/deepgroove one side/RVG/”p”)