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Jazz Icons: Art Blakey boasts an exceptional one-hour concert by Art Blakey from Paris in 1965. This performance showcases one of the few undocumented Blakey bands, the New Jazzmen, featuring the incomparable Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, as well as Jaki Byard on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, Nathan Davis on sax and, of course, Art Blakey on drums—truly a powerhouse quintet!

Freddie Hubbard’s incendiary playing on “Blue Moon” and the blistering 24-minute version of his own “Crisis,” serves as a cogent reminder that he was one of the most innovative trumpeters in jazz history.

Garner Show tag

Personnel tag
Drums- Art Blakey
Freddie Hubbard
Nathan Davis
Jaki Byard
Bass- Reggie Workman

erroll garner

erroll garner

Songs tag
The Hub
Blue Moon
NY Theme

Features tag
20-page booklet
Liner notes by Michael Cuscuna
Photos by Chuck Stewart, Lee Tanner, Francis Wolff, Raymond Ross
Memorabilia collage
Total time: 60 minutes

Liner Notes Preview tag

Sample Liner Notes by Michael Cuscuna:

What is most striking about this concert is that everyone is playing at the top of his game. Hubbard is amazing. His playing is fluid and articulate; his tone and control throughout the entire range of the horn are thrilling. Chorus after chorus, the ideas flow; he never falls back on his own clichés or favorite devices. Similarly, Davis is inventive and expressive from first note to last. He can move from down-home growls to charting new territory in the space of a few bars. Jaki Byard is, well, Jaki Byard, a magical, delightful force at the piano. Blakey and Workman are masters and, as always, bring more than is expected to their roles.

Hubbard’s “The Hub” first appeared on Blakey’s Soul Finger recorded the previous May. The A section consists of a clever gospel call-and-response melody followed by an attractive descending line with a unique bridge. Oddly, neither Blakey nor Hubbard seems to have returned to this tune after this tour. A shame, really, because it is a delightful and appealing composition. Hubbard and Davis are on fire from their first choruses. Because the number of choruses for each soloist were undetermined, Blakey doesn’t shape each solo in a dynamic arc the way he might with his regular group. But he locks the rhythm in and pushes the soloists mercilessly. It is interesting to note that when the piano solo starts, Blakey basically drops back to being the keeper of the groove and doesn’t interact with Byard because he has no feel for where the pianist will go next. So as Byard jumps backward and forward in jazz history and juggles, even suspends the time, Blakey keeps things anchored. At one point in the fourth chorus, I’d swear Blakey is thinking about laying out, then thinks better of it!

“Blue Moon” is a study in contrasts. Freddie, the only soloist, is bold yet tender and punchy yet lyrical. What a musician!

“Crisis” is one of Hubbard’s most celebrated and recorded compositions. It is a basic AABA structure but the A section is 16 bars. The first 12 bars are a lovely, lilting melody over a Latin rhythm and the last four bars are a kind of shot chorus riff over a driving 4/4. The bridge (Hubbard really knew how to write bridges) is also straight 4/4. To their credit, the band keeps the form rhythmically and harmonically throughout the solos. Everyone gets a turn with Davis kicking it off, artfully playing variations of the melody throughout the intense solo. Hubbard, Byard, Workman and Blakey follow in excellent form. Even though this was not the greatest recording audio-wise, you can hear the beauty of depth of Workman’s sound nonetheless.

This particular group, billed according to the credits at the start of this broadcast, as Art Blakey and His New Jazzmen played its last performance about a week later at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

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