Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Free for All (2004 Digital Remaster)

Phil Freeman

By Phil Freeman

on 07.20.11 in Reviews

Free For All

Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers
The sound of tradition exploding

Even as Wayne Shorter established himself as a leader, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers provided him steady work, and on this record, he’s in blazing form. The band roars through three intense, hard-driving tracks — “Free for All,” “Hammer Head” and “The Core” — and even the lone ballad, “Pensativa,” is more brooding, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice, than it is truly pensive. On the opening title track, Shorter’s solo is ferocious, nearly kin to what Albert Ayler was doing than to traditional hard bop, and Blakey’s drumming renders words like “apocalyptic” and “concussive” inadequate. The sound of tradition exploding.