Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Free For All

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 08.27.12 in Reviews

Free For All

Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers

If anyone casts aspersions on Wayne Shorter’s magnificence as a tenor saxophonist, simply play them his title track to Free For All. For more than three minutes, he wails like a man possessed, with molten extended notes erupting into rapid-fire modulations, as if he is speaking in tongues. Whoops of joy can be heard in the studio, as Blakey mightily tries to keep the whole enterprise from busting loose. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (in his last disc with the Messengers) is a kindred spirit blowing mightily after Shorter not only on the title tune but on Shorter’s ostensibly soul-jazz number, “Hammer Head,” and on “The Core,” Hubbard’s tribute to the Congress Of Racial Equality. It was February of 1964, and Shorter was no longer following ‘Trane, but abreast of him, and Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, in a rapturous swoop and cry that would ignite the “free jazz” movement that Shorter, aside from this wicked flash, never joined. In two months he would take Coltrane’s rhythm section and begin an incredible run of 11 albums under his own name for Blue Note over a six-year period. And by the end of 1964, he had left Blakey to become a cornerstone in Miles Davis’s second classic quartet.