Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers


A “lost” version of the Jazz Messengers that was never documented

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Art Blakey had such consistent success with his Jazz Messengers during 1955-90 that it is easy to forget that some versions of his hard bop institution were barely documented.

In 1973, Blakey’s Jazz Messengers recorded Buhaina and Anthenagin at a time that his group included trumpeter Woody Shaw, trombonist Steve Turre, tenor-saxophonist Carter Jefferson, pianist Cedar Walton, and bassist Mickey Bass.

Their next recording was 1976’s Backgammon, using a complete different personnel (trumpeter Bill Hardman, tenor-saxophonist David Schnitter, pianist Albert Dailey and bassist Chin Suzuki).

However, Blakey and the Jazz Messengers made no recordings at during 1974-75, making their appearance on a French television show in 1974 quite valuable.

The otherwise undocumented version of the group (which here is called “The New Jazz Messengers”) consists of trumpeter Olu Dara (few of Blakey’s fans probably realize that Dara was at one time a Jazz Messenger), holdover Carter Jefferson on tenor and soprano, Cedric Lawson on electric piano, bassist Stafford James, and the drummer-leader.

The 1974 Jazz Messengers perform passionate versions of Cedar Walton’s “Ugetsu,” and “Footprints”; while one wishes that they had recorded a full album, at least this filmed appearance exists.

-Scott Yanow


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