At The Jazz Corner
Lee Morgan, trumpet; Hank Mobley, tenor sax; Bobby Timmons, piano;
Jymie Merritt, bass; Art Blakey, drums.
|1. Hipsippy Blues (Hank Mobley) 9:25
2. Justice (Thelonious Monk) 7:36
3. The Theme (Traditional) 2:19
4. Close Your Eyes (Bernice Petkere) 11:22
5. Just Coolin' (Hank Mobley) 7:46
|Produced by ALFRED LION
Cover Photo by FRANCIS WOLFF
Cover Design by REID MILES
Recording by RUDY VAN GELDER
Recorded on April 15, 1959
Art Blakey and his various but unvaryingly persuasive quintets have brought their message to the millions, these past five years, through an impressive variety of channels: at jazz concerts and festivals, in night clubs from Birdland to the Club St. Germain in Paris, as well as through the media of motion pictures, theatres and records.
With this set, Blue Note returned to "the jazz corner of the world" for an extended inspection of the combusitble and invigorating sounds disseminated by the latest Blakey fivesome.
The club's emcee, Pee-Wee Marquette, long a fixture and a favorite with the public, inaugurates the session with a spirited announcement. The band kicks off Hank Mobley's "Hipsippy," a minor-mode blues using the intriguing staccato effects now common to many compositions by the hard bop groups. After Hank's funky solo comes an engaging performance by Lee Morgan, who seems still to be improving with age (he is now a venerable 21). Bobby Timmons, who comps so funkily under Lee, soon emerges for his own movingly brisk solo.
A brief percussion statement by Blakey leads into "Justice," the Thelonious Monk tune. This is usually performed, as here, with the melody outlined by the horns while the rhythm is implied rather than stated. This was a big hit at one of Art's Apollo Theatre appearances a few months ago. Here Lee is a little more technical than on "Hipsippy." Throughout the Timmons solo, Jymie Merritt's nimble walking bass chorus and Blakey's cooking with sticks and snare, this is a muscular and unflaggingly passionate performance.
"The Theme," as we have mentioned previously, is a tune of much disputed origin that has had several titles and, like Monk's "52nd Street Theme," is a standard set-closer for many bop combos. Pee-Wee Marquette comes in over the piano solo with his usual set-closing applause plea. The theme modulates up unexpectedly and Lee kids around by glissing notes that you expect to hear played straight.
The second side opens with the old ballad "Close Your Eyes." The opening, at medium tempo, leads into the theme gently with the horns repeating a riff and Timmons filling. On Lee's solo here the timbre and phrasing are mature and the element of humor persists. Mobley is legato and sturdy in a style that is perhaps more fashionable and better accepted now than when he began to develp it almost a decade ago. Timmons has here what I believe is his finest solo on this LP--a performance that builds consciously and carefully in its impact and intensity.
Art introduces "Just Coolin'," a Hank Mobley tune first heard on a 10-inch Mobley Blue Note LP. Worth noting here is the economic and resourceful use of both unison and two-part voicing in the short ensembles before solos by Lee and Hank. Dramatically effective, too, is the somewhat unexpectd unison end on the tonic.
It would be asking a great deal of Art Blakey to expect of him that each group he forms be better than the last. Anyone with Art's record for introducing sidemen of the caliber of Horace Silver and Clifford Brown can consider himself lucky even to maintain, with subsequent personnels, a steadily high level of performance.
That his 1959 quintet combines all the essential hard-swinging qualities of his earlier groups at "the jazz corner of the world" presents the case for his current line-up as convincingly as could possibly be desired.
--LEONARD FEATHER, from the liner notes.
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