Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers | The Freedom Rider
Another album by the Lee Morgan/Wayne Shorter/Bobby Timmons/Jymie Merritt iteration of the Messengers. Not the most famous by the group, but still a solid one, and unique for a couple of reasons. Most obvious is the title track, which is a solo drum piece (it’s rare to see a track on a Blakey album actually credited to Blakey). Despite the absence of other instruments, it’s not super grating or weird - Art Blakey manages to play seven minutes of solo drums and keep it interesting, even for people who aren’t drummers. The opening track, Tell It Like It Is, is pure Jazz Messengers, with a rhythmic, bluesy head, and I was also a fan of Lee Morgan’s Blue Lace, a rare waltz in the Messengers’ discography. This version also included some bonus tracks, including Kenny Dorham’s Blue Ching, which immediately struck me as a hybrid of Bobby Timmons’ Moanin’ and Miles Davis’s So What. I’d say this is not the most essential Blakey album, but it does have some pretty unique things about it that definitely make it worth hearing.