The Art Blakey Quintet, A Night At Birdland, Vol. 1 (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
The Jazz Messengers essentially begin here
Drummer Art Blakey to the audience at Birdland, one night in 1954: "I'm gonna stick with the youngsters…keeps the mind active." He called that right. For 40 years hard bop's great talent scout schooled Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Watson, three Marsalises and umpteen others in how to navigate complex and intensifying rhythms and to build and pace a solo. His Jazz Messengers start here, really, with this golden quintet fronted by standard-setting new trumpet virtuoso Clifford Brown (fearsome uptempo, and a precocious ballad player at 23) and altoist Lou Donaldson, whose tone was Charlie Parker's yawp given an acid bath. Pianist Horace Silver is funky and resourceful as always, and on the cusp of his own bandleading career. Silver wrote them great tunes too: "Mayreh" and "Quicksilver." Founding bebopper Curly Russell's on bass. But it's Blakey's chomping hi-hat, pulsing ride cymbal and sub-Saharan/Cuban tom-toms that keep 'em all moving.