Hard Bop Full Of Enthusiasm And Fire!
Drummer Art Blakey, known as the guru of hard bop jazz, first made a name for himself in the 1940s in the big bands of Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine. He also worked with bebop musicians Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1955 Blakey and pianist Horace Silver co-founded the quintet that became the Jazz Messengers. In 1956, Horace Silver left the band to form his own group leaving the name, the Jazz Messengers, to Art Blakey. Arts driving rhythms and his incessant two and four beat on the high hat cymbals were readily identifiable from the outset and remained a constant throughout 35 years of Jazz Messengers bands. What changed constantly was a seeming unending supply of talented sidemen, many of whom went on to become band leaders in their own right.
"Art Blakey, when asked about his music being labeled hard bop, insisted, 'I don't know what they are talking about. All we try to do is play music, basic music. How are you going to swing if you don't swing hard?' Hard Drive: Out of This World and The Next World Too, featuring the second formal group of Messengers, swings hard and aims high. After all, Sputnik, the first satellite, was launched into space by the Soviet Union in just a week before the session in October of 1957. Art Blakey and his energetic Messengers sent a business-as-usual message to the jazz audience with trumpeter Bill Hardman, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin and bassist Spanky DeBrest, guided by the experience of pianist Junior Mance and Blakey's steady, voracious drums. The group's enthusiasm and comfort with one another is evident in seamless solo exchanges in Jimmy Heath's 'For Minors Only', and in 'DEO-X', Hardman's composition built on a tonal scale opened by Blakey's clear and creative stick sounds. As Hardman said about Blakey: 'When he's there, you don't have to worry about anybody being behind you. Even if it were just him, with no piano or bass, it would be pretty cool.' Griffin later reflected, 'We had more fun than anybody. A ball every night.' His two compositions, 'Right Down Front' and 'Krafty', are well-interpreted highlights of the session. Hard Drive may not be the powerful Moanin', recorded a year later for Blue Note with names like Golson, Morgan and Timmons. Nor does it contain a future leader like that of the 1980s lineup that produced Wynton Marsalis, who reinvigorated hard bop. It is, however, an intoxicating teacher-student session, all the way through to the last composition by Philadelphia pianist Leon Mitchell. His 'Late Spring' showcases this talented group of musicians, who shared Art Blakey's desire to swing hard." - Shawn Kirkeby, Hard Choices, KMHD Jazz Radio
"The final recording by the second version of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers features trumpeter Bill Hardman, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, either Junior Mance or Sam Dockery on piano and bassist Spanky DeBrest along with leader/drummer Blakey performing four group originals, two Jimmy Heath compositions and the obscure 'Late Spring.' Although this was not the most famous edition of The Messengers, it set a standard that its successors would uphold to, training its members to be bandleaders in their own right. The music on this album is typical hard bop of the period, well played and full of enthusiasm and fire." - Scott Yanow, allmusic.com
Direct Metal Master
Made in the E.U.
Bill Hardman, trumpet
Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone
Junior Mance, piano (except track A3)
Sam Dockery, piano (A3)
Spanky DeBrest, bass
Art Blakey, drums
1. For Minors Only
2. Right Down Front
4. Sweet Sakeena
1. For Miles And Miles
3. Late Spring