As good a start as any
Michael Hardin | South Duxbury, Vermont United States | 07/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People talk about "Moanin'" as being the first album to get when getting into Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Although Moanin' was my first Messengers album (aside from the Ken Burns Art Blakey CD, but that doesn't really count as an album), and I proceeded to buy "A Night in Tunisia" and "Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers," I could never really warm up to them until I had heard this one. I immediately loved this album for its great compositions, great solos, and deep, powerful swing, and it really served as a launching point for me to go out and get everything this group cut, everything other Messengers lineups cut, and many albums by the various sidemen. So I have to confess that this album holds a special place in my heart.
"The Big Beat" was recorded in 1960 and features Lee Morgan on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass, with the leader on drums. Though all of these musicians had recorded together with Blakey prior to this, this is the first time this specific lineup recorded, and they would go on to record seven more albums over the next year and a half. Though all of the albums are very good (and some are spectacular), this may be the best, perhaps along with "A Night in Tunisia" and "Roots & Herbs." Wayne Shorter supplies three originals, all of which are interesting, swing hard, and provide a good basis for the soloists. Of special note is "The Chess Players," a very bluesy, medium tempo tune that may seem atypical of Wayne's work, especially his later stuff, but it's just quirky enough in form to indicate where the young composer was going. Also, the rendition of "It's Only a Paper Moon" is far from being a cheesy gimmick, as one might suspect; instead, there's an aura of playful mystery that is helped (or perhaps created) by Lee Morgan's genious trumpet playing. It's one of my favorite cuts on the album.
All in all, this is a very accessible, hard-swinging album and a fantastic introduction to the Jazz Messengers and what this edition was all about. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes jazz regardless of their listening experience. There's something on every level here."
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers At Their Best!
J. Rich | 09/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Drummer Art Blakey has recorded some great bebop albums in his day and this one is one them.
Joining Blakey on his trip down Splash Mountain are Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Bobby Timmons on piano, Jymie Merritt on bass, and of course Blakey on drums.
This album was recorded almost around the same time as "Moanin'" which features one of the hottest lineups of the Messengers' long history. Every song on this album is swinging like crazy and has strong melodies and great improvisations. This album features two of my favorite Messengers' tunes "Dat Dere" and "Sakeena's Vision."
If you're just getting into Art Blakey, then start with this album. If you enjoy good 60s bebop then buy this album.
The remastering of this album is very well done. It sounds great for 1960. It sounds like it's been cleaned up and that's always good thing.
Other great Messengers' albums "A Night in Tunisia," "Moanin," "Caravan," "Ugetsu," "Mosaic" and "Free For All," which features one of the most aggressive Blakey performances ever."