Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

Au Théâtre Des Champs-Élysées

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Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers are heard in a 1959 concert at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris on this French CD. At the time the unit included Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan, with Walter Davis, Jr. and Jymie Merritt joining Blakey in the rhythm section. Most of the four pieces featured give the band a chance to stretch out and are the typical high-energy performances one has come to expect from bands led by the veteran drummer, with the opener, "Close Your Eyes," getting the nod over the other tracks. Morgan's trumpet solos are sparkling, while Shorter has a few problems with squeaking his reed on occasion but otherwise is close to top form. The rather muddy sound of this live recording is somewhat disappointing for a major-label release, which has been reissued on CD by RCA France but not yet in the United States; therefore, it is worth the investment for obsessive Art Blakey collectors, while most jazz fans will gravitate to better-sounding releases first.

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