Art Blakey / Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

A Night in Tunisia [1957]

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This excellent set features one of the best recordings by the second version of the Jazz Messengers, and it is the only time that Blakey featured both altoist Jackie McLean and tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin together; Griffin soon became McLean's successor with the band. Also in the group at the time were trumpeter Bill Hardman, pianist Sam Dockery, and bassist Spanky DeBrest. The selections include a lengthy version of "A Night in Tunisia," Sonny Rollins' "Evans," and an original apiece by McLean, Griffin, and Hardman. The music overall lives up to one's expectations, with Blakey's powerful drumming inspiring the soloists to play at their best. Classic hard bop. [Some reissues add three previously unreleased alternate takes, including "A Night in Tunisia."]

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