Dr. Jeckyl: Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

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Dr. Jeckyl: Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers Review

by Ron Wynn

By 1985, Blakey had replaced the Marsalis brothers with a next-generation sax/horn duo in Donald Harrison and Terence Blanchard, and also added Jean Toussaint on tenor sax and Tim Williams on trombone. Lonnie Plaxico was on bass and Mulgrew Miller was the pianist. This lineup was interested in doing fresher material and fewer remakes of shopworn standards. As a result, the four tracks on this 1985 set were penned by former Messengers Bobby Watson, Jackie McLean, and Wayne Shorter, the other by Ron Carter. The players responded with aggressive, attacking solos instead of coasting or casually running through chord changes. The leader was still able to provide blistering rhythms, an array of accents, textures, and colors, and offer one or two marvelous solos as well. Even late in his career, Art Blakey would not be content to merely show up and run through the motions.

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