The edition of drummer Art Blakey's protean Jazz Messengers featured on this DVD had been together for just a couple of months when Live in '58 was recorded in Brussels, Belgium. As it happened, this quintet would stay together for barely half a year--but what a lineup it was, with Blakey joined by pianist Bobby Timmons, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, bassist Jymie Merritt, and the astonishing 20-year-old trumpeter Lee Morgan. All five were powerhouse musicians, but what made these Messengers, and this hour-long show, really special was the presence of two world-class composers: Golson (two of whose three contributions here, "I Remember Clifford" and "Whisper Not," are certified jazz classics) and Timmons (whose "Moanin'," recorded just a month earlier, is another classic and one of the signature tunes in the entire Blue Note Records catalogue). The 14-minute version of "Moanin'" may be the highlight of the night. The song itself, with its gospel-based, call-and-response verse alternating with an ineffably swinging bridge, is irresistible; add to that some wonderful individual soloing, especially by the ultra-funky Timmons, and you've got a performance of timeless brilliance. Not that the others aren't good as well. Morgan shines on "Clifford," Golson's tribute to the late trumpeter Clifford Brown; the entire group cooks like mad on the uptempo standard "It's You or No One"; and "A Night in Tunisia" showcases Blakey, the band's engine and one of the few drummers whose style, with its African influences matched by effortless swing, is instantly recognizable. While they may not be up to new millennium standards, the black & white visuals (it was a multi-camera shoot, unusual for its time) and digitally-remastered audio are surprisingly good, and although there are no bonus features, the fact that this is apparently the only known visual document of these particular Jazz Messengers makes Live in '58 a genuine treasure. --Sam Graham
Jazz Icons: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers features what many consider to be one of the fi nest line-ups in the history of jazzÂ—Bobby Timmons (Piano), Jymie Merritt (Bass), Benny Golson (Sax) and the legendary trumpet player, Lee Morgan. Lost for nearly 50 years, this historic 55 minute concert, fi lmed in Belgium in 1958, one month to the day after they recorded their masterpiece Moanin,Â’ is the only known visual document of this infl uential band who were together for only six months.
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