This hourlong live performance by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers probably comes from a tape made for radio broadcast for East Berlin radio in 1980. With a potent lineup that included pianist James Williams, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce, trumpeter Valery Ponomarev, and bassist Charles Fambrough (all of whom became leaders in their own right following their stints with Blakey), every track is played with the enthusiasm and sincerity that the drummer demanded. It's too bad that the issuing label didn't apply the same standards to the packaging of this CD. The nearly 12-minute track listed as "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is actually a medley of that famous hymn and "Gypsy Folk Tales." The third selection is not "Gypsy Folk Tales" but likely a composition by Bobby Watson or another Blakey alum. Finally, the well-known "The Theme" (also known as "52nd Street Theme") is listed incorrectly as "Theme Song" by Benny Golson, while the bassist Charles Fambrough's name is badly misspelled. Such carelessness should not deter anyone from searching from this otherwise excellent live CD.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden