Art Blakey in Paris, 1965 (Jazz Icons IV series)
Art Blakey, Live in 1965
Studio: Naxos/ Jazz Icons 2119017 [Release date: 10/27/09]
Video: 4:3 B&W
Audio: Dolby Mono
Extras: Illustrated booklet
Length: 60 minutes
(Art Blakey, drums; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Nathan Davis, tenor sax; Jaki Byard, piano; Reggie Workman, bass)
Art Blakey was known to be an incubator of hard bop musicians. He led his own ever-changing roster of jazz musicians in his group, The Jazz Messengers, from the 1950s until 1990. A veritable who’s who of jazz stardom began their careers with tutelage from Blakey. Here is just a small sampling: Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Curtis Fuller, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Timmons, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, and Cedar Walton.
Occasionally, Blakey would lead groups between periods in which he was reforming new editions of the Jazz Messengers. Such is the case with the group presented in one of the fourth edition of Jazz Icons DVDs being introduced this month. Blakey called this group The New Jazzmen. During the fall of 1965, Art was touring Europe with this new short-lived group, as part of a tour that included an all star grouping of Earl Hines, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Eldridge, Stuff Smith, Jimmy Woode, and Kenny Clarke.
What made this group unusual was the inclusion of Jaki Byard on piano. Byard was more of an avantgarde pianist than the usual swing and blues-based pianists that Blakey hired for the Jazz Messengers. The other major difference with this aggregation was the fact that the Jazzmen played more extended versions of compositions than Blakey’s Jazz Messengers were known for. Two tracks on this DVD (both Freddie Hubbard penned): The Hub, and Crisis, take up two-thirds of the hour concert.
The Paris concert turned out to be a showcase for Hubbard. Though the European based Nathan Davis, on tenor, has his strong solo moments, and the rhythm section is rock solid with Byard being especially restrained, Freddie is clearly the centerpiece here. He had begun his prolific Blue Note solo career five years earlier, and was primed for his Jazz Messenger period with a combination of brashness, and sheer power, combined with lyrical sweetness on ballads (Blue Moon). With the exception of Lee Morgan, Hubbard was at the top of the heap of hard bop trumpeters in 1965.
At the Paris concert, Nathan Davis blows hot on Crisis (at twenty four minutes, there is room for all to stretch out), but once Freddie digs in, he owns the stage. For fans of Mr. Hubbard, purchase of this Jazz Icons DVD is a must-have for the chance to experience Freddie “live” on video at his most virile. Both the black and white video and the acoustics are passable – but it’s the archival value that makes this DVD noteworthy.
TrackList: The Hub, Blue Moon, Crisis, NY Theme
– Jeff Krow