Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

Hard Champion: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

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The four tracks on this session provide listeners with a chance to hear two of the last Messengers units. Half the cuts were done at Sweet Basils in 1985 with a three-horn frontline of alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint, and trumpeter Terence Blanchard, plus bassist Lonnie Plaxico and pianist Mulgrew Miller. The others were recorded in a New York studio in 1987 with another three-horn group of alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson, and trumpeter Philip Harper, plus pianist Benny Green and bassist Peter Washington. Jackson, Garrett, and Harper display more fire and bite than their counterparts, and although there is nothing technically wrong with what the other group offers, it is just not as substantial, intense, or creative. While this is not a great Messengers release, it is certainly worth having.

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