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Art Blakley and the Jazz Messengers - Hard Bop

This album is exactly as it says on the tin (cover). Art Blakley and the Jazz Messengers, seminal 1957 work, ‘Hard Bop’. This collective pioneered a musical moment in Jazz history, the Cool School. Through the 50s there was a move toward the more extreme and free, away from the previous decades of swing and de-bop, yet still based in heritage. Faster tempos, longer solos and more cryptic compositions, whilst being quieter and more reflective. At this point Rock and Roll was dominating the mainstream of popular music, as a result, clubs and bars became spaces for appreciation, with the musicians increasingly considering their work as art.

Through the decades of history, jazz style was a series of reactions against the previous generation and schools of thought, both musically and socially, paradoxically attempting to have clarity in direction and be seemingly indefinable. Much in the same way Art Blakey’s collective the Jazz Messengers spanned many movements and featured many big players, such as Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter and Freddie Hubbard. Cu-Bop and Drum Suite are also notable albums, hard to find, but worth digging for, striking examples of when African and Latin musical traditions became more prevalent in American Jazz.

- Ed