Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

Coast to Coast

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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein

Coast to Coast by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers is a two-CD set from Concord Jazz that features a pair of previously recorded "live" engagements in New York City and San Francisco. Disc one contains songs from their 1984 release titled New York Scene and disc two features songs from Live at Kimball's, originally released in 1986. Both discs feature the great drummer in concert with Terence Blanchard on trumpet, Donald Harrison on alto saxophone, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, and Jean Toussaint on tenor saxophone. This particular sextet was among the younger generation of performers that intensified Blakey's hard-bop and polyrhythmic techniques that had provided a foundation for many accomplished trumpeters, including Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, and Blanchard. "Oh By the Way" penned by Terence Blanchard, "Controversy" by Donald Harrison, and "Falafel" by Mulgrew Miller are among the excellent songs on disc one. Live at Kimball's continues this sextet's appeal with Art Blakey's audiences on the West coast. They perform an artful showcase of standards including "I Love You," "Old Folks," and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," as well as "Jody," which is a powerful vehicle for both Blakey's infamous hard-bop, rhythmic, and cymbal workouts as well as Blanchard's dynamic articulation and improvisational skills. This two-disc set is a commendable project that illustrates the common knowledge of many jazz aficionados: Drummer Art Blakey was the definitive figure in the hard-bop movement and the creative ensembles he mentored remain among the most distinctive in modern jazz.

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