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  1. Last week’s Night Lights show sampled some of the final editions of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, featuring musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Garrett, Terence Blanchard, and Javon Jackson. It’s now available for online listening: Late Art: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers In The 1990s
  2. Previously-unreleased Blue Note session from 1959 coming out in April. Has this date been discussed or speculated about on the board before? Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers “Just Coolin’” Longer description from the email: On April 24, Blue Note Records will release Just Coolin’, a never-before-released studio album by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers that was recorded on March 8, 1959 in Rudy Van Gelder's living room studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. The session featured a short-lived line-up of The Jazz Messengers with drummer Art Blakey, trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt. The album features two previously unissued compositions including Timmons’ tune “Quick Trick,” which is available today to stream or download. Just Coolin’ can be pre-ordered now in several formats: CD, digital download, and an all-analog 180g vinyl pressing that was mastered by Kevin Gray. The session for Just Coolin’ finds The Jazz Messengers’ saxophone chair in transition. The band had last recorded in October 1958 when they cemented their place in jazz history with the classic album Moanin’ featuring Benny Golson on tenor saxophone. By July 1959, Blakey had recruited tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter who would remain a fixture of the band until 1964. The interim saw the return of Mobley, who was a charter member of The Jazz Messengers when the band first formed in 1954 and appeared on their debut recording The Jazz Messengers At The Café Bohemia in 1955. Mobley also filled an important role as the band’s resident composer. In fact, three of the six tracks on Just Coolin’ were written by Mobley: “Hipsippy Blues,” “M&M,” and “Just Coolin’.” However, five weeks after the studio session Blue Note founder and producer Alfred Lion decided to record the band again at the legendary club Birdland in New York City on April 15, 1959, capturing an assured live recording that included four of the six titles that had been recorded in March. The Birdland sessions ended up superseding the studio date when Lion instead released the two-volume live album Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers At The Jazz Corner Of The World later that year. “In 2020, it’s great to find more Morgan, Mobley and Timmons in their prime,” writes Bob Blumenthal in the liner notes for Just Coolin’. “The music had clearly settled in during the month that separated studio and live versions, but the fire of these six tracks has an appeal of its own.” Now, 61 years later jazz fans all over the world will have the chance to listen for themselves. The credits for Just Coolin’ are as follows: SIDE 1 1. Hipsippy Blues (Hank Mobley) 2. Close Your Eyes (Bernice Petkere) 3. Jimerick (unknown) SIDE 2 1. Quick Trick (Bobby Timmons) 2. M&M (Hank Mobley) 3. Just Coolin’ (Hank Mobley) Lee Morgan: trumpet Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone Bobby Timmons: piano Jymie Merritt: bass Art Blakey: drums Original session produced by Alfred Lion Recorded on March 8, 1959, Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ Recording by Rudy Van Gelder Photography by Francis Wolff Cover design by Todd Gallopo at Meat and Potatoes Produced for release by Zev Feldman Mastered for vinyl by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio
  3. "Art Blakey: Class of '57"

    1957 was a prolific year for Art Blakey, the volcanic drummer and leader of the Jazz Messengers. The Messengers were one of jazz’s most-noted and longest-running collectives, and young musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Woody Shaw, Keith Jarrett, and Wynton Marsalis all pulled tours of duty with the group, sometimes called “the hardbop academy.” Its bop-and-funk-driven history stretches from the late 1940s to the beginning of the 1990s; the lesser-known 1957 edition included saxophonists Jackie McLean and Johnny Griffin, as well as trumpeter Bill Hardman, whose chemistry with McLean one writer described as “beautiful, tart…their brash, peppery tones created a distinctive front-line sound.” Blakey recorded a myriad of albums in 1957 for various labels, including Columbia, Bethlehem, RCA, and Pacific Jazz, resulting in one of his most diverse years on record. We’ll hear music from eight different LPs, including the Messengers’ collaboration with Thelonious Monk, the three-horn Night in Tunisia date, one of Blakey’s percussion/rhythm numbers, and two “Jazz-Messengers-plus” sides that venture into the realm of Blakey big-band. Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: Class Of '57 airs Saturday evening, Dec. 29 at 11:05 p.m. on WFIU. It will be posted for online listening Monday morning in the preceding link and in the Night Lights archives. Next week: "Moodsville 2."
  4. I'm currently working on a Night Lights show about John Coltrane in 1963 and came across mention of the Coltrane Quartet's appearance at NYC's Philharmonic Hall on Dec. 31, 1963 in the John Coltrane Reference book. I'm pretty sure I've read about this concert before, but wow, crank up the time machine and all that, especially given who else was on the bill: *John Coltrane Quartet w/Eric Dolphy *Cecil Taylor Jazz Unit (w/Jimmy Lyons as, Albert Ayler ts, Henry Grimes bass, Sunny Murray drums) *Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (w/Wayne Shorter ts, Freddie Hubbard tpt, Curtis Fuller trombone, Cedar Walton piano, Reggie Workman bass, Wellington Blakey vocals...?!) The concert was reviewed by Leroi Jones for DownBeat and Whitney Balliett for the New Yorker--I probably read said reviews in anthologies of theirs a long time ago, but somehow had overlooked just how dynamic this overall lineup must have been.
  5. A roundup of four Night Lights programs devoted to the year of 1957 for Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Curtis Fuller, and Sonny Rollins: 1957 Four Portraits In Jazz
  6. I'm looking for an Art Blakey record (CD) that we had at the radio station I worked at in college in the early 90s. I believe it was released in the late 80s. There's a track that has a lot of discussion, then Art chewing out the band. "You know what... you guys get in the studio, you try to make everything so goddamn clinical!..." and so on. I know that Essiet O. Essiet was the bassist, but I remember very little else about it. Any clues? I'm seeking the track and album names (hoping to find it on iTunes), but would be happy with just the album name for a used record search. Thanks in advance!