Art Blakey

Southern Devils: Paris Jazz Concert -- May 13, 1961, Vol. 1

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Although the less-than-stellar sound quality of this disc may take getting used to, it is the shear power of the 1961 Jazz Messengers that transcends any aural limitations. At a time when they were at the peak of their abilities, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers were captured many times on their legendary treks across Europe. Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter make the perfect front line, bursting with creative energy, while Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt hold down the rhythm section with the stalwart Blakey.

The group's performances from this time contained many works that would go on to become Messengers favorites for years to come. Tunes like Timmons' "Dat Dere," Monk's famed "'Round About Midnight," and the classic "My Funny Valentine" all get brilliant readings here with Shorter, Morgan, and Timmons handling most of the solo spots. Of special note are the original tunes like Shorter's opening burner "The Summit" and Morgan's reflective ballad "Yama," which displays the softer side of the Messengers' sound. Although this group was mostly known for its many stellar sessions for Blue Note, one-off performance discs like this one only add to the legend.

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