Monday 6 November 2023

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - Moanin'/Children Of The Night [Steely Dan - Aja]

Moanin' - Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers (1958)
More jazzy jazz of the ultimate jazzy jazz variety. Trumpet from Lee Morgan! Benny Golson tops on tenor sax. Composition and fa fa funky rhythm and blues jazzy piano from Bobby Timmons. Rhythm section none too shabby either with Jymie Merritt accompanying Blakey's tres jazzy drummage. I mean it is jazzy jazzy but you can't escape the fact that it's got a bluesy rock'n'roll soul too. 

Peak jazzy jazz!

Perhaps hard bop is the archetypal jazzy jazz for me because I don't go back and listen to old school bepop or swing or big band or whatever else is lurking back there. I remember having tapes of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and other bepoppers when I was small and it just seemed too ancient because I already knew Bitches Brew, Spiritual Unity, Interstellar Space and 60s/70s James Brown

Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers - Children Of The Night (1961)
A Wayne Shorter composition featuring his great sax and the tremendous trombone of Curtis Fuller then the topper-most trumpet of Freddie Hubbard. Terrific tinkling of the ivories from Cedar Walton while Art & Jymie ensure the tempo and swinging dance-ability of the tune. 

These Jazz Messengers sure had a great run from the mid 50s to the mid 60s. They basically ran the jazzy jazz for that ten year period while other jazz sub genres existed adjacently. If you just followed all the members and their solo outings and collaborations along with all the Blakey And The Jazz Messengers records for that period you would be down an impeccable jazz rabbit hole. That's a big chunk of peak history for the jazzy jazz and the subsequent offshoot sub styles of the time. 

...Oh now I remember why I ended up in the jazzy jazz milieu, Steely Dan. Walter Becker and Donny Fagen loved the engineering aesthetics of Rudy Van Gelder. He recorded thousands of sessions in his New Jersey studio for labels such as Prestige, Blue Note and Impulse. The above two tunes are engineered by Van Gelder.

Steely Dan - Aja (1977)
Wayne Shorter made a cameo sax appearance on this, the title track to Steely Dan's Aja from 1977. A sprawling post-bop extravaganza like no other in rock.

This, not so much the jazzy jazz as the jazz fusion/jazz-rock. It's post-rock though really innit. 

Also notable for the exquisite improv drummage from Steve Gadd...


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