For Art Blakey (1919-1990)--groundswelling drummer and Dean of Hard Bop--most of the seven performances here were departures from the aggressive, call-and-response style that he helped create in the 1950s. These 1972 and '73 recordings, with their incantatory passages, Latin-tinged vamps, airy melodies (two by a 20-year-old bassist named Stanley Clarke), washes of electric piano, and bubbling multi-percussion beneath the soloists are, to an extent, cosmic echoes of the Charles Lloyd/Pharoah Sanders/Lonnie Liston Smith voicings of the late Sixties. For those who prefer a more traditional greeting from the Messengers, there's Cedar Walton's burning "Anthenagin," featuring a muscular tenor saxophone spot by Carter Jefferson and a typical Blakey brushfire, and an "I Can't Get Started" that provides a poignant reminder of the late trumpeter Woody Shaw's incandescent lyricism.
Song for the Lonely Woman, Kaku Aka, Child's Dance (Christian's Song), C. C., I Can't Get Started, Anthenagin, I'm Not So Sure
with Ramon Morris, Manny Boyd, Woody Shaw, Carter Jefferson, Buddy Terry, George Cables, Cedar Walton, John Hicks, Walter Davis, Essien Nkrumah, Stanley Clarke, Mickey Bass, Nathaniel Bettis, Sonny Morgan, Pablo Landrum, Emmanuel Rahim, Ray Mantilla, Tony Waters