Art Blakey's early '80s band is largely credited with introducing the world to Wynton Marsalis and Bobby Watson. Recorded live in Florida, the band romps through a powerful set of mostly standards, save for Watson's original "Bitter Dose," that highlights the talented young stars as well as their legendary leader, Blakey.
The group's highly motivated arrangements help to set this edition of the Messengers apart from the many others. In particular, cuts like the driving signature piece "Moanin'," a punchy version of Monk's "'Round Midnight," and the Marsalis feature "My Funny Valentine" offer the best visions of what these future leaders would become. Through it all, Art Blakey is the driving force.