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Art Blakey: Like Someone In Love



I have a thing for Art Blakey's "Moanin" like I do for "Kind Of Blue" by Miles Davis. The two albums are must haves in any form you can get them. This time in have Blakey's "Like Someone In Love" on loan. It's a joy of intellectual jazz with a soft and loving rhythm. I am hoping to find a copy for my collection, until then I will enjoy the loaner album.

Original Liner Notes:

THE drummer-leader, quit possibly, can be a boor. With the unlimited power given to him as the head of a group, and the very nature of his instrument, he is in a position to also be a bore, crashing variety. It is a testimonial to the talent and taste of the many drummer-combo leaders who came to the fore in the Fifties that they have not abused their privileges.

As one who has successfully led a group for well over a decade, Art Blakey has been an outstanding example of a drummer-leader who manages to maintain star status without hogging the spotlight. Never has a drummer been more in evidence while at the same time fully integrated in the overall sound of the band. Blakey's is a presence that has never merely felt, but strongly as it is felt, it never overrides the homogeneity of the unit.

The Jazz Messengers, in all its editions, has always been known as a heated, dynamic organization that can fill the air with the blue smoke of its electric charge. The master generator is Blakey. This group is no exception and neither is the set it plays. The fire is there but so is romance and tenderness. In fact, it is in this mood that the album begins with the title tune by Burke and Van Heusen, Like Someone In Love.

After a mood-setting, out-of-tempo introduction by Bobby Timmons, Lee Morgan blows billowing clods of melody as the rhythm section floats behind him in a relaxed, but never flaccid, groove. His embellishments as subtle in the first chorus, and then he really opens up with a singing, joyous, Brownie-like attack. Timmons eases in with some blithe, right-hand comments before launching into a two-handed chordal style reminiscent of Red Garland, Miles Davis quintet vintage. The Lee returns to lovingly take it out.

Morgan and Timmons are typical of the talent that has entered the ranks of the Jazz Messengers, developed within the band, and gone on to do important things on their own. Morgan, fresh our of Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra, polished his style with the wider solo opportunities offered to him in Blakey's group. His horn began to soar higher, wider, and more confidently. Eventually he graduated. As any listener knows, who is familiar with his recordings under his own name for Blue Note, Lee graduated cum laude.

Timmons had been with several combos, such as Chet Baker and Kenny Dorham, before playing with the Maynard Ferguson band. From there he went to Blakey. Not only did his playing become more fluent and personal, but it was within this context that his compositions, Moanin and Dat Dere were first recorded. Eventually Bobby became the leader of his own trio.

Timmons is not represented by any songs in this set but Morgan is. Jhonny's Blue is a minor-key blues featuring the mercurial fire of Morgan, some especially strong preaching by Wayne Shorter, some more effective contrasting of single-line and chords by Timmons, and a short, subdued explosion by Blakey.

Every Messenger group usually has one chief arranger, a "musical director" who contributes the bulk or the band's repertoire. Horace Silver and Benny Golson served in this capacity. Then it was tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter's turn. Side 2 is devoted exclusively to his compositions. Shorter, like Morgan and Timmons, has since departed the Messengers. More recently he has been heard as a member of the Mile Davis' quintet, and as a leader on Blue Note. His writing continues to be an important part of his work as it was when he was with Blakey. The three tracks here offer a variety of tempi and mood. They give a clear idea of Wayne's versatility.

Blakey kicking trunks around upstairs begins Noise In the Attic, an uptempo rifer that explodes with a vigorous Morgan solo. Shorter, whose style shows and absorption of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, shows both sides of his background in his portion, starting with the latter and ending with the former. Timmons is fleet, facil and feet-on-the-ground as Jymie Merritt and Blakey pulse strongly behind him. Then it's back up to the attic for some more creative rummaging by Art before the theme is punched into fading submission.

The lovely, slow waltz, Sleeping Dancer Sleep On, comes wafting in as tenderly as anything you've ever heard. Morgan is ever so thoughtful as he literally caresses each phrase. Shorter makes excellent use of both registers of his horn and even flys to the moon at one point. Timmons, displaying his fine touch, executes some dazzling pirouettes around the dance floor. Then, again, the beautiful melody. Dancing sleeper, dance on.

Shorter, is the forceful, opening soloist on Giantis, once the theme of this happy, optimistic, medium-up swinger is completed. A raffish Morgan is next flashing brassily from all angles. Timmons digs in for some of his "hardest" playing of the set, and Blakey's short but weighty comments lead back into the chorus.

When Art had to be there, he is really there. And, as I said before, even when he is not being featured you never have to ask where the beat is. He didn't learn how to play for a group by reading about it in books. The kind of experience that Blakey brings to the drums comes only from years of playing. Some of the experiences have been pretty wild. For instance, take one of his early jobs.

Many musicians start out on instruments totally different from the ones one which they eventually make their reputation. Blakey was playing the piano before he became a drummer. "I used to play by ear," he told me in the course of the interview. "I used to pay in five keys and that was it. With me it was a matter of survival. I got married when I was 16, and had a family to support. I was playing in a club at night, and I worked in a steel mill during the day. I didn't know anything about the piano, and Erroll Garner came in and took my gig and the band. I ended up being the drummer because a gangster told me -with a .38- 'You hit the drum.' And I said, 'This is my band. You don't tell me what to do. You crazy.'
'You want to work here, kid?'
'Sure I want to work here.'
'You play the drums, and don't argue with me.'
I went up there and played the drums."

So Art Blakey came close to never leaving that club, let alone his native Pittsburgh. On the other hand, jazz got one of its greatest drummers as is proven on this album. Maybe that hood knew more about music then he let on. -Ira Gitler

Produced by Alfred Lion
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio,
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on August 7 & 14, 1960
Cover Photo & Design by Reid Miles
Digital transfers: Ron McMaster

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