Thursday, June 05, 2008

Music Library: Art Blakey, Art Neville, Art Pepper, Arthur Blythe, Arthur Russell

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - A Night At Birdland Vol. 1, A Night At Birdland Vol. 2, A Night In Tunisia, Paris 1958. Four albums by the jazz drummer, a hardline bop enthusiast who drove the conservative side of jazz so damn well. The Birdland dates are led by Clifford Brown, and Tunisia and Paris albums by Lee Morgan with Wayne Shorter on the Tunisia album only. Great stuff when it's great and inoffensive when it's mild.

Art Neville - His Specialty Recordings 1956-58. New Orleans-style R&B from the 50s. Art's the oldest Neville brother, the founder of the Meters, and the primary organizer of the Neville Brothers. You don't hear much of that here.

Art Pepper - Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section. The rhythm section in question is Red Garland on piano, Paul "Mr. P.C." Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums, all of whom had been playing with Miles Davis in the mid-to-late 50s. Pepper is a very different player than Miles, though. As Garland and Chambers were 2/3 of the Red Garland Trio who played with Coltrane on his earliest dates, this also provides an interesting contrast between Coltrane and Pepper. Anyway, it's hard bop, rounder and more cheerful than either Miles or Coltrane.

Arthur Blythe - Lenox Avenue Breakdown. What a weirdly cool album. Usually when I think of jazz with a flautist and a tubist (is that what you call a tuba player?) and Latin rhythms, I'd just as soon avoid avoid avoid. Blythe is grounded in Ornette Coleman, though, and his sidemen rock their roles, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Arthur Russell - Let's Go Swimming EP. Avant-disco! Built around heavily distorted cello and drum loops. Yeah, that's pretty awesome.

Next time: more Arthur Russell.


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