Thursday, July 23, 2009

Joey Altruda’s Vinyl Meltdown-Special Art Blakey Podcast


Reserve Radio Vinyl Meltdown Podcast
(scroll down the page for previous Vinyl Meltdown podcasts)

I first discovered the music of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers as a freshman in high school. It was the height of corporate arena rock, just before punk rock invaded sunny southern California, and Jazz was at an all time low in popularity. A classmate of mine loaned me his father’s copy of The Big Beat on a label called Blue Note; also John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and the Charlie Parker Dial Sessions Volume I (essential classics of the genre). My experience with Jazz prior to this had been primarily pre war/ big band era music, especially the Benny Goodman sextet featuring guitar pioneer Charlie Christian.
Post war Jazz & Bebop was a whole new thing to me, and within seconds of dropping the needle on that Blakey vinyl I knew my life had been changed in a big way. The music was soulful, impressionistic, otherworldly, yet somewhat nostalgic at the same time. This was also my introduction to trumpeter Lee Morgan, sax man Wayne Shorter, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt, who were featured sidemen on this particular record. It wasn’t until several years that I became more informed about The Jazz Messengers’ legacy (remember, this was a couple decades before the internet and google).

As I later found out, several generations of Jazz stars cut their teeth with Art Blakey’s band-Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver, Benny Golson, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, the Mangione Brothers, the Marsalis Bothers, etc-the list goes on & on.

I eventually became of age to get into clubs and finally see Art Blakey perform live, which was like having my arms plugged into a gigantic electrical socket of life energy, leaving the gigs walking on air for days after. Anytime the Messengers played in Los Angeles I made sure to be there, as close to the band stand as I could get;sometimes for several nights in a row. Over the years, I collected as many Blakey recordings as I could get my hands on, yet to this day, my favorite lineup is the 1963/64 Morgan/Shorter/Timmons band, a perfect combination of soul and incredible original compositions. Recordings of note featuring this lineup on the Blue Note label: The Big Beat, Like someone In Love, Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World Vol I & II, Night In Tunisia, Witch Doctor.

1. Sakeena’s Vision
2. So Tired
3. Yama
4. The Chess Players
5. Johnny’s Blue
6. The Things I Love
7. High Modes
8. Joelle
9. Invitation
10. Afrique
11. What Know

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