Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk: Rhythm-A-Ning




The Jazz Messengers


Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk (Atlantic 1278)

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Art Blakey (drums), Thelonious Monk (piano), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax),

Bill Hardman (trumpet), Spanky DeBrest (bass)


Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: New York, May 15, 1957


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

One of the many strengths of Art Blakey's musical leadership was his ability to bring new musicians on board without sacrificing the overall sound or approach of the Jazz Messengers. Even when Thelonious Monk enters the picture, you may ask? Well, ultimately, yes.

The first half of the track is more like a Monk recording than a Messengers recording. Blakey is noticeably subdued, and although his signature pounding hi-hat pulse is still present, he lightly breaks the rhythm more like Roy Haynes than like Art Blakey. Blakey appears to be taking the backseat and allowing Monk to run the show. As the track progresses and the other musicians begin to solo, however, Blakey raises the intensity level, and the soloists take notice and answer the call. All of sudden, even though Monk's comping presence is felt throughout, the Messenger service is back in full swing replete with Blakey's big rolls between solos and signature solo licks to conclude the tune. The presence of Monk and his tunes on this '57 session makes for a fascinating study of the collision of dominant jazz personalities.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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