Recorded live at Birdland in New York City on September 14, 1960
All transfers from the analog tapes to digital were made at 24-bit resolution
Disc One originally issued as Blue Note BST 84054 (Volume One).
Disc Two originally issued as Blue Note BST 84055 (Volume Two).
This set collects both installments of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers' Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World (1961) in a comprehensive two-CD compendium, sporting thoroughly remastered sound by legendary jazz producer/engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Audio-conscious consumers should be aware of the distortion that somewhat marred the original vinyl, as well as all subsequent pressings. Unfortunately, it seems to have been inherent in the master tapes. While it occasionally reveals itself during the more dynamic contrasts and passages, the combo's swinging bop and sheer musicality outweigh any and all anomalies. Birdland (aka "the jazz corner of the world") produced some of Art Blakey's (drums) most revered live recordings. In addition to these volumes, enthusiasts are equally encouraged to locate the genre-defining A Night at Birdland (1954). For the Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World sides, listeners fast-forward six years to Blakey's latest quintet, which includes the respective talents of Lee Morgan (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Bobby Timmons (piano), and Jymie Merritt (bass) - all of whom are solidly grounded to Blakey's firm yet profound backbeat.
The lyrical performance style that began to emerge from Shorter in the early to mid-'60s can be heard developing during his tenure as a Jazz Messenger. He contrasts Morgan's limber and lilting solos and improvisations, which are especially notable on "'Round About Midnight" and the spirited "The Breeze and I." The latter title also allows Timmons the opportunity to stretch out and motivate the melody. "High Modes" showcases Merritt's pulsating and hypnotic basslines as he weaves a smoky groove beneath Morgan and Shorter's scintillating leads. In addition to "High Modes," this set features two more Hank Mobley compositions. The syncopated and infectiously rhythmic "Night Watch" is highlighted by Shorter, as he begins to fully grasp his improvisational skills that seem to materialize right before the keen-eared listener. He is quickly developing into the undaunted instrumentalist who would revolutionize modern jazz with Miles Davis in the mid-'60s. The set concludes with a rousing rendition of Shorter's "The Summit," which became a comparable standard for this version of the Jazz Messengers. Once again the lines fly fast and furious between Shorter and Morgan, with Timmons securely anchoring the soloists to the equally involved rhythm section. The 2002 reissue includes a newly inked essay from jazz historian Bob Blumenthal as well as reproductions of Leonard Feather's original sleeve notes. The sheer volume of releases by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers arguably makes this set somewhat obscured by the plethora of similarly classic live platters. However, the 2002 complete Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World would be a welcome addition to the library of most any jazz lover.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World
In an interview with Barbara Gardner in Down Beat Bobby Timmons was quoted as saying of the Jazz Messengers: "There is really no other group to go to from here. I couldn't find anything in any other group that I can't find here."
One can well understand his attitude, with these latest sides as evidence. Blakey's brand of music, in the past five years, has come to symbolize an entire jazz school, one that might most appropriately be described as the Blue Note School of Jazz. Critics may disagree about a definition of Chicago or New Orleans or West Coast jazz, but the Blue Note School in general, and Art Blakey in particular, has come to represent a phase that has branched out internationally as a major trend. Not since the days of Commodore's association with Dixieland, almost a quarter of a century ago, has any one record label been so firmly identified with the consistently successful production of records in a particular groove.
Out of Blakey and Blue Note came the "hard bop" tendency; out of the Messengers came the Horace Silver group, and out of Silver came the whole groove-funk-soul society, with charters all over the U.S. and applicants throughout the world. You can trace the whole story back to February 19, 1954, the date the memorable Night At Birdland sets were recorded, with Art's group featuring Clifford Brown (BLP 1521 and 1522). The Messengers worked their first gig as an organized unit just a year later-fittingly at a night club called the Blue Note in Philadelphia. With Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Horace Silver and Doug Watkins, the quintet played two definitive sets at the Cafe Bohemia (BLP 1 507 and 1508) taped in November 1955, as well as a pair of earlier sessions in November 1954 and February 1955 released on BLP 1518.
Important factors in later editions of the Messengers were the buoyant contributions of Lou Donaldson, and the influential roles, both as composers and instrumentalists, of Bobby Timmons (whose Moanin' was first heard with this combo on BLP 4003) and Benny Golson, whose 8/ues March and Drum Thunder Suite were a part of the same LP.
That all these ramifications have grown in and around the Blakey-Blue Note alliance has been meaningful in terms of the Messengers' acceptance. Little by little, the more cautious and anemic brands of modern improvisation have been shunted aside and a greater place has been opened up for the brand of message transmitted by Art's consistently aggressive sidemen. The acceptance of the quintet on foreign tours has been particularly impressive. As these words were written, Art and his men had just returned from another triumphal tour of the European continent, were working a week at the Zebra Lounge in Los Angeles, and were ready to take off a couple of days later for what promised to be a precedent-setting tour in a four-city Japanese jazz festival.
Before much time had elapsed after the Japanese jaunt, it seemed probable that Art would make jazz history by taking the first real modern jazz combo to Soviet Russia. Negotiations had begun and Art was proud and flattered at the prospect of breaking the ice.
But whether they are taking their message by special delivery to Moscow, Tokyo or their own home ground, the constituents never seem more at home, or musically more at ease, than when they are playing at the Jazz Corner of the World. It is an invigorating experience to find them, on these sides, at that renowned location and at the top of their zestfully confident musical form.
The first sounds heard, fittingly, are the ringing tones of William Clayton Marquette, the former band vocalist from Montgomery, Alabama, who for more than a decade has served as master of ceremonies at the Jazz Corner of the World. After his individual introductions have been climaxed with a tribute to "that talented master-showman Art Blakey," the Zildjian rings through into "The Opener." Hank Mobley's tune, one of three he wrote for the occasion, is a unison line, the main phrase moving generally downward, the release curving upward and leaving an unexpected gap that's filled in by Timmons. Wayne's solo demonstrates how ideally his muscular, declamatory style fits this group. Though there's some evidence of Rollins-like phrasing around the second eight of his second chorus, he is fast developing as a stylist in his own right. Lee Morgan shows how far he has progressed on two levels- technique and ideas-and Timmons shows an ingenious manner of breaking up his eighth-note stretches with triplets and other rhythmic devices that lend variety to his solos. A fiery excursion by Art precedes the closing theme.
"What Know," Lee Morgan's original, marks one of those increasingly prevalent uses of a compelling melodic device-the pick-up phrase that's longer than what it leads into. Here we have a theme built mainly around phrases that open with a three- or four-note pick-up, lasting generally for two and a half beats, ana close with two notes on the first beat of the following measure. If's an attractive effect, used here most engagingly in the minor mode. Timmons's chorded passage stands out in a series of brilliant solos. The side closes with a flash of the theme, long enough to afford a solo glimpse of Timmons and Pee-Wee's disclosure that we have been listening to the Soul Brothers.
'"Round About Midnight" is preceded by Art's announcement. A drum roll and a repeated misterioso chord, followed by a trumpet extension of what was originally conceived as a coda to the tune. All are heard before the melody itself enters. Lee's sinuous variations of the melody, Art's shifting accents, Shorter's passionate declamation of the release are features of a fine opening chorus, but the best is yet to come. Shorter and Timmons instill vigorous new life into the much-played Thelonious Monk standard and Morgan takes over the spotlight again, leading the closing ensemble into a long and unpredictable cadenza that adds a new dimension to the usual routine on this number.
"The Breeze And I," a Lecuona standard that I've heard Art use to dramatic effect both in night club and concert work, is outlined thematically by Shorter for 16 bars. After Morgan has rounded out the first exposition, Wayne begins the blowing, showing a combination of the firm beat, great harmonic sense and big, uninhibited sound that were revealed as his outstanding characteristics soon after he landed on the name-jazz scene
less than two years ago. The cohesive work of the rhythm section, both in the regular choruses and the interludes and opening and close, remind the listener how valuable Jymie Merritt, Timmons and Blakey are as a unit, even while one's ears are inclined to concentrate on the more directly attention-getting quality of the horn solos. Lee Morgan, incidentally, shows astonishing technique as well as a magnificent flow of ideas on this track. I was impressed by the pretty and unspectacular ending with which the Breeze sighs its way out.
After a little noodling by Timmons, Pee-Wee brings on the band and Art announces Hank Mobley's "High Modes." Art's use of mallets, and Jymie Merritt's use of a bass figure in unison with Timmons's left hand, set the pace for a blues-oriented theme outlined with Lee Morgan in a mute and the general mood somewhat subdued. Wayne Shorter strikes a plaintive note with a solo that makes frequent use of long-held sixths, minor sevenths and fourths against a minor chord. It's about as soulful a performance as you'll hear in this entire series by a group in which soul is at all times a pervasive element. Lee in his muted moments tends to remind one more of his ex-boss Gillespie than of more recent influences. Timmons plays in a manner that recalls his statement to Barbara
Gardner: "Soul is an innate thing in people. Some people have it, and some don't. You can't just snatch it and throw it around like it's nothing." Bobby also observed: "You can't just decide to be soulful. If you have soul...it will be there. And if the person listening has soul, he'll recognize it." (So dig.)
Ex-Messenger Mobley is again represented as composer on the next item, "Night Watch." Introduced with a smooth Latin rhythm undercurrent, it's another minor piece in which Art's ingenious underpinnings accentuate the charm of the theme. (Listen to his work on the opening chorus without paying attention to the melody-it's a gem in itself.) Jymie Merritt's support is again conspicuous at this moderate-to-bright tempo. Wayne wails, almost literally, with a sometimes sobbing quality, before a brief ensemble interlude leads into one of Lee's more restrained ventures in which the lower register of the horn often attracts him. Timmons's comping is notable during the latter passages of this solo; then Bobby gets the nod and cooks flowingly in a solo that's remarkable for its rhythmic variety.
The second side is introduced by Art. "The Things I Love" is played here at about twice the customary ballad tempo and mainly in unison by Lee and Wayne. The latter then takes off, with the whole rhythm section offering a steady four for his first 16 bars, in contrast with the normal comping to which Bobby then returns. Shorter explores the lower reaches of his horn in a series of jagged, plunging phrases during a generally incisive solo. Notice how Timmons imparts a three-feel to the release of the closing chorus, though actually the rhythm section never departs from the basic four, except for the very last couple of bars.
"The Summit" was composed by Wayne Shorter. A Messenger since August of 1 959, he has been to Europe twice with the group and impressed the remarkably hip audiences there, who dug his talent despite his complete lack of name value. In "The Summit," which he describes as "a little different-but not too different," he has tried, he says, to instill in the music something of the feeling that "the people's minds must be jarred out of complacency, and maybe some sort of real world meeting, a genuine summit, will eventually come about among the leading statesmen." One can only wish that the meeting of the minds among politicians at a summit convention could be as close and cohesive as that found among the five musicians in this performance. From Art's opening salvo through the gutsy statement of the theme to the fire-breathing solos of Shorter, Morgan, Timmons and Blakey, and the bravura ending, this summit meeting is the kind that only artists of global caliber could convoke.
- Leonard Feather (original liner notes)