Sunday, December 5, 2010

Art Blakey & The New Jazz Messengers – Buttercorn Lady

   The great legend of modern jazz, be-bop drummer and stage personality Art Blakey has a great gift to find extremely talented musicians. Maybe it has something to do with luck but one can explain it in more rational way as attracting young musicians by creative personality of the leader. No matter how we try to rationalize this phenomenon, the fact is The Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and later The New Jazz Messengers was the place for developing their musical ideas for more than sixty musicians, whom Messengers gave the solid base to successful future. Leading his band mostly as a classical quintet lineup with trumpet, saxophone, piano and double bass but sometimes as sextet with trombone or guitar, Art Blakey has an idea of encouraging young artists, thus his band outlast for more than three dacades. 

Art Blakey & The New Jazz Messengers – Buttercorn Lady

   Recorded live in January 1966 and published the same year by Limelight (LS-86034), The Buttercorn Lady is much more than one of dozens of Art Blakey’s Messengers records. The first reason is the unique lineup with young jazzmen Chuck Mangione and Keith Jarrett. Short period of their service in Blakey’s quintet was surprisingly fruitful. Mangione is skillfully hard-boping and lyrical, Jarrett is amazingly classical in technique and in harmonic style. This attitude shortly had to become a standard as a new sensitivity in ’60s and later. Frank Mitchell is playing tenor saxophone with imagination and efficiency. Basist Reggie Workman and Art Blakey are in close connection as good rhythm section. Six pieces – three pieces on every side of the record – can convince this was great jazz event. And thanks to the record it still is. Original edition was extremely hard to buy so it was in next years reissued by label Tripp Jazz (TLP 5505). 
   The opening tune is the real jewel thus probably gave the title for whole album – bright and full of warm feelings with surprizingly light Jarrett’s solo, Buttercorn Lady is like a virtuoso miniature, short and intense. Complex and vibrant solos give second piece Recuerdo a listener a chance to enter into the atmosphere of Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach in January 1966. In The Theme, which is closing the A-side, trumpeter and saxophonist are holding the theme in dialogue and punctuating over the piano solo. Last piece on this side is the brace with the first tune at once an example of unique understanding and natural collaboration between Mangione and Mitchel and again short but still fresh and witty solo of Keith Jarrett. Second side is more hard-bop but still incorporating some brilliant ideas. Solos are as serious as good. In Between Races Mangione has a chance for solo improvisation in extremely hot style while in My Romance he plays lyrical and poetic phrases. He uses wide range of trumpet expression. Blakey is more modern than anytime before. In Secret Love musicians one more time confirm their possibilities of building deeply sensible, narrative and meaningful vision.

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