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A Night at Birdland, Volume 2
Art Blakey Quintet
A Night at Birdland, Volume 2
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

The second volume of recordings from this seminal hard-bop date (February 21, 1954) picks up where Volume 1 leaves off, and is no less thrilling. Trumpeter Clifford Brown positively smokes through "Wee-Dot" and a superchar...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Art Blakey Quintet
Title: A Night at Birdland, Volume 2
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Blue Note Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/1954
Re-Release Date: 8/7/2001
Album Type: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724353214722

The second volume of recordings from this seminal hard-bop date (February 21, 1954) picks up where Volume 1 leaves off, and is no less thrilling. Trumpeter Clifford Brown positively smokes through "Wee-Dot" and a supercharged reworking of the standard "The Way You Look Tonight." Alto Lou Donaldson earns his "Sweet Papa Lou" moniker with a tender reading of "If I Had You," rippling off a flurry of notes without ever upsetting the gentle nature of the tune, and evidencing a strong Bird influence in the process. Speaking of Bird, the two closing tunes come from Parker's pen, most notably "Now's the Time," which here receives a superbly slowed-down and funked-up rendition. --Marc Greilsamer

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CD Reviews

More of the most remarkable jazz you will hear in your life
Kevin W. Celebi | Greencastle, IN | 12/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Allow me to tell you a hidden secret about Blue Note Records.

Whenever a live jazz event was recorded and Blue Note (read: Rudy Van Gelder) was present for the event, the music was probably released as a double LP (or now, CD), fooling you into thinking that it was divided into two even sets (the interested listener can look to Blakey's AT THE JAZZ CORNER OF THE WORLD, MEET YOU AT THE JAZZ CORNER OF THE WORLD, Coleman's AT THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, etc. One exception is Lee Morgan's 3 disc LIVE AT THE LIGHTHOUSE, which reflected the 70's' trend of longer, modal pieces, and thus longer sets). 99% of the time, there were many rejected pieces, with Blakey's historic 1954 gig no exception. Blue Note simply has austere standards and only the best of the night's notes made it into the double set.

Blakey's night in Birdland contained 18 selections of music in five sets, rather than the appearance of 14 selections in two sets that Blue Note conjures (the unreleased tracks are QUICKSILVER [1st take], OUR DELIGHT, WEE DOT [2nd take], and CONFIRMATION [1st take]). Also, the track order was changed to give the album more of a flow. The first selection of the night, the alternate take of Wee Dot, was replaced on VOL 1 in favor of the radiant Split Kick, while the very last song of the gig, Quicksilver (master take), was replaced on Vol 2 by the lightning quick Confirmation, which was consequently fused with the calm "Lullaby of Birdland" to end the music.

Blue Note's tricky deception aside, Blakey's music will gratify even the moldiest of figs to utmost enthusiasm.

Such unwavering energy. Fortunately, since the tracks from both volumes of the Night at Birdland are mixed in order, there is no fatigue evident in the lovable, constantly energetic jazz. From the frenetic pace of WEE DOT to the last notes of the driving CONFIRMATION, the circumstances of the night (a wild audience, the musicians' first huge break, the presence of a recording engineer..) propelled Blakey's band into some of the most requested music ever recorded.

This volume's for fans of Lou Donaldson. Lou is honored in his own ballad feature, the sentimental and bluesy IF I HAD YOU. I was playing this track in a hotel room with my tenor-playing buddy, and the Lou's opening melody statement caused him to lift up his head and go "ahhh!!! So beautiful!" Blue Lou also gets to flash his bop chops on Charlie Parker compositions NOW'S THE TIME and CONFIRMATION, as well as providing his own tune, LOU'S BLUES.

Dig the flexibility of hard bop's inaugaration. This music can serve as the most romantic and intimate of music (as most reviews love to say, clink your glasses and dine to this loveliness), for instance with Donaldson's enchanting ballad feature; undoubtedly, it also is a clinic in how to run a fervent jazz quintet: driving rhythms, virile improvisations, and ardent enthusiasm for the music. "Something for everyone" is a tag this might receive at the market.

Harmonic creativity and flexibility you will not find in this night of music. The first volume features two blues (BLUES and WEE DOT), while the second volume features three more blues (LOU'S BLUES, WEE DOT, and NOW'S THE TIME). The rest of the music consists of either originals based on other songs' chord changes, or standards that by this point are beaten into the ground.

It's a minor quibble, but what about the four unreleased tracks? Most people wouldn't know about them if it weren't for released discographies, but with the current "Let's release everything!" era, (thanks, Luhrs), this music is bound to be released in completion someday, regardless of the recent RVG remaster.

At times, Vol. 2 feels like a "best of the rest" disc of the entire night. The band's most inspired performances are contained on the first disc. While this volume contains better musical dialogue and tighter ensemble cohesion, its improvisations are lacking a notch in energy compared to the first volume. The band wasn't invincible, and indeed was susceptible to tiredness at times.

For the most dedicated of Clifford Brown fans, don't look at this. Go for the magisterial "COMPLETE BLUE NOTE AND PACIFIC JAZZ RECORDINGS OF CLIFFORD BROWN", which, while being extremely affordable, includes both volumes of this gig, EMINENT J.J. JOHNSON Vol. 1, CLIFFORD BROWN MEMORIAL ALBUM, and THE IMMORTAL CLIFFORD BROWN.

As impressive or essential as any jazz album is, you can't seriously call yourself a fan of jazz music or one with a jazz library without this CD and its companion. It's just too seminal to be forgotten, especially since it includes jazz's most kingly trumpeter, funkiest pianist and saxophonist, and its most talented drummer.

Not enough can be said about how splendid this documentation is, especially in lieu of its rarity. Blakey's quintet here toured and performed for at least 3 months, with this being the only surviving recording. This rarity only increases the music's nobility and the listener's curiosity as to what else they could have played, inspired, and uplifted.

The album's best track is Lou's Blues. This (or Quicksilver) might be the fastest selection of both volumes, and the quintet is simply textbook in its rhythmic endurance, numerous ideas, and curious explorations in improvisation.

Come out and hear the King of Hard Bop and his royal subjects make history for the annals. Come for Volume 1, stay for Volume 2 of A NIGHT AT BIRDLAND."
A quick rundown of a great CD
Eric C. Sedensky | Madison, AL, US | 06/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The band: Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Horace Silver, Curly Russell, Art Blakey. (Should recognize at least Brown, Silver and Blakey - big names in jazz.)

The venue: Birdland - "Jazz Corner of the World"

The production: Rudy Van Gelder remaster of a live recording. (Hot, but clean.)

The verdict: This is a worthwhile CD and should be in every serious jazz music collector's collection in one form or another (see below). It really swings and is seriously hot live jazz by some of the greatest jazz musicians ever to play music.

The caveat: You can buy Clifford Brown's The Complete Blue Note & Pacific Jazz Recordings, which contains this CD, A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1, The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Vol. 1, and another disc of Clifford's that probably shows up somewhere else but I just haven't found it yet.

The summary: If you don't spring for the CB set, get this CD, but be sure and pick up volume one as well for the complete picture of an historic night in jazz history."