Some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time have passed through Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Wayne Shorter, and Donald Byrd, among many others. However brief their stay, working with the demanding and full-throttle drummer not only increased their visibility, but also their chops and interprative capacity. Blakey’s ability to drum up the best players in the game may have even eclipsed his superhuman ability to play drums.
Altoist Jackie McLean, trumpeter Bill Hardman, bassist Spanky deBrest, and pianist Sam Dockery deliver whole-bop goodness on five propulsive, fiery tracks. True to its title, this LP bops hard, with a ferocious swing, boundless energy and telepathic communication between players—especially Blakey and Hardman. Considering the rhythmic demands of Blakey’s locomotive playing style, this was an incredible achievement.
Impex Records has cut this gorgeous, limited edition (2,500 pressings) 180-gram LP with the original analog mono master tapes and without computer processing of any kind. You hear all the vivacious interplay that occured on that weekend in 1957 when Blakey and crew forged a bold new vision of muscular, funky jazz. And only that. This is music that still resonates over 50 years later. Not to be missed.
1. Cranky Spanky
2. Stella by Starlight
3. My Heart Stood Still
1. Little Melonae
2. Stanley’s Stiff Chickens
GUY LEMCOE, THE AUDIO BEAT, DECEMBER 4, 2013
Probably not the first Jazz Messengers album one would reach for — the group’s Blue Note titles are rightly revered — Hard Bop is nevertheless a quintessential example of the aggressive, hard-driving bop style developing in the late ’50s and early ’60s. This album, recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street studios on a mid-December weekend in 1956, shortly after pianist and Jazz Messenger co-founder Horace Silver left the group, finds master drummer Art Blakey driving his talented young sidemen through a set of two standards and three originals.