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The first five tracks are from "Hard Bop," a 1956 Columbia album (liner notes by Nat Hentoff), with a frontline of Jackie McClean on alto and the (under-recorded, under-appreciated) Bill Hardman, who played trumpet for Blakey in 3 different decades. It's some of the "hardest" hard bop you're likely to hear, raw and unforgiving, practically a league apart (in textures, dynamics, compositional interest--not necessarily in musicianship) from "Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers" (with Mobley, Silver, Byrd), released on Columbia during the same year (not to be confused with the later Blue Note date that opens with Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'").

My copy is all in Japanese but appears to be a Sony reissue (now the owner of Columbia). The other selections are considerably "mellower," with a somewhat surprising (for Blakey and company) George Gershwin medley (which probably would not pass certain political correctness requirements these days). My only recording of the latter arrangement, which comprises the identical frontline as "Hard Bop," is from a session entitled "Tough!" on the Cadet label (a Chicago company associated with Argo Records). It's true that Blakey also made some impressive recordings with Johnny Griffin--not just on RCA but Bethlehem and Atlantic ("Hard Drive" and "Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk"), which have later shown up on Rhino, Savoy, and Collectables. In fact, the latter label offers both the albums "A Night in Tunisia" and "Jazz Messengers Play Lerner and Lowe" in a single 2-CD package (about the "Lerner and Lowe" album, the normally proud and competitive Hardman gives all the credit to Griffin, adding it was one of the most challenging sessions the Messengers ever recorded).

At least with this present Mosaic release of "Hard Bop" you can be assured of complete and accurate documentation.
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on April 18, 2008
This was recorded in 1957 and features the Alto Sax of Jackie McLean and the Trumpet of Bill Hardman. The CD contains all tunes from the original LP plus unreleased different tunes. The highlight for me is the great medium tempo- Stella By Starlight. Check out this band with Tenorman Johnny Griffin added to the front line on- A Night in Tunisia- on RCA Victor. You've probably got the Blue Note - Night In Tunisia - with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter already.
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I got this album when I purchased a two album set titled Tough! + Hard Bop + 1 Bonus Track and on that page you can listen to sound samples of tracks 1 through 5 and 9 on this one.

One of the reasons why I rated this so high is the line-up. I have been a Bill Hardman fan for quite sometime and own some of the albums that he led. I find his tone and phrasing to be remarkable for a trumpeter who is unfairly obscure. I also like the fact that this edition of the Jazz Messengers features Jackie McLean on alto sax. Blakey had a penchant for tenor saxophonists, so on the rare occasions in the early years when he used an alto instead is a treat for me. The remaining line-up on this album - including the bonus tracks - are Sam Dockerty on piano, Spanky DeBrest on bass and Blakey on drums. As a rhythm section that are as strong and driving as any Jazz Messenger line-up before or since.

The bonus tracks (6 through 8) are from an album titled Drum Suite that was recorded during the same December 12 and 13, 1956 sessions as Hard Bop. The same line-up too. You can listen to sound samples of those tracks on the linked product page.

All of the tracks - main album and bonus - were recorded for Columbia in NYC, and all are incredibly rhythmic. As a side note, the Gershwin Medley on track 9 was recorded for inclusion on this album, but was not on the original release, This is one of three recordings that Blakey did of that medley (here, on the album titled Tough! and one on a KABC-TV Stars Of Jazz episode that first aired on October 29, 1956.)

If you are a Jazz Messengers fan chances are this album is missing from your library. Listen to the sound samples on the pages I linked above and hear for yourself why you should have it in your playlist!
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on August 25, 2015
I am pleased with the product and the speed in which it was sent.
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