Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Featuring Chuck Mangione & Keith Jarrett
Chuck Mangione - Trumpet
Frank Mitchell - Tenor Sax
Keith Jarrett - Piano
Reggie Johnson - Bass
Art Blakey - Drums
Buttercorn Lady *
Between Races *
Recorded live January, 1966 at The Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, CA
Emarcy Records 822 471-2
* Written by Chuck Mangione
Re-released as Get The Message
Liner notes from the EmArcy CD release:
For more than three decades Art Blakey has been introducing new
young jazz talent to the world. The list of notable musicians
who have come to prominence in his bands includes, among many
others, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Wayne
Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, and more recently, of course, Wynton
Marsalis. Heard on this CD is a short-lived mid-60's edition of
Blakey's Messengers which included two musicians who later went
on to achieve huge international success -trumpeter Chuck
Mangione and pianist Keith Jarrett. Also featured here is Frank
Mitchell, an obscure but excellent tenor saxophonist who later
recorded for Blue Note with Lee Morgan.
Leonard Feather's liner notes from the original 1966
Limelight issue of this session follow:
"Yes, sir, I'm going to stay with the youngsters - it keeps the
The comment by Art Blakey sounds typical of the man who calls
himself "the world's youngest jazz drummer. Interestingly
enough, the remark was not made recently. It was quoted in this
writer's liner notes for an album Blakey recorded ten years ago.
Then 36, already able to boast half a lifetime devoted to music,
he was speaking of men in his group who were eight or ten years
his junior. Today, a long way from senility and still charged
with the same indomitable fervor, Art can make the same comment
when the sidemen are young enough to be his children.
The present edition of the New Messengers, introduced here for
the first time on records, is hot off the presses, having been
edited by Blakey since his last recording deadline. It is an
entirely new unit, one that maintains Blakey's unbroken record
for replacing the seemingly irreplaceable. By now he has had as
many sets of Messengers as Herman has had Herds. After so many
years gone by, and so many messages successfully delivered, it
has become clear that Art's ability to surround himself with
brilliant new talents is to be credited less to good fortune
than to a permanently Wide-open pair of ears.
"It was time for a change;' says Art of the events that led to
the new turnover." Sometimes you find there are problems
involved in getting the guys to work together, spiritually as
well as musically. And it's no use making replacements by just
going back to the same old clique. You have to watch out
constantly for new sounds, new faces. I don't want any group of
mine to sound like a carbon copy of the one before it. We have
to have our own identity, with fresh concepts, a feeling that
the men can get along with one another, and a general eagerness
to go forward.
The reorganization got under way in the summer of 1965 in
Atlantic City, N.J. The front line was changed first. After Lee
Morgan and Art had agreed to go their separate ways, the vacancy
thus created seemed like an unusually rough one to fill
particularly when one could go through piles of earlier Blakey
records and find men like Clifford Brown, Kenny Dorham and
Freddie Hubbard in the lead role.
It was Dizzy Gillespie, an early friend of Blakey's and a
colleague in their Billy Eckstine band days, who came up with
the suggestion that solved Art's problem. "Remember Chuck
Mangione?" said Diz, and not too many days had elapsed before
Art was sure that the reminder had been an invaluable one.
Charles Frank Mangione was born in Rochester, N.Y, November 29,
1940. His older brother Gaspare (Gap), is a pianist-arranger and
was co-leader from 1960-64 of their Jazz Brothers group. Chuck's
extensive music studies, which began when he was eight, included
trumpet piano and theory at the Eastman School of Music. He
received his Bachelor of Music degree, with a major in music
education, in 1963.
"My father is a jazz fan and was a major factor in my musical
development;' says Chuck."When I was too young to get into
nightclubs alone, he'd introduce me to any name jazzman who
visited town. As a result I got to sit with Art Blakey and
Dizzy, among others, and Diz presented me with an 'up-do' horn.
All musicians were welcome at our house for dinner and Italian
wine; Diz and Art are still close friends of my father.
Frank Mitchell, the bristling new tenor saxophonist from the
Bronx, is even more of a newcomer to the big time than Mangione.
Art recalls: "One night I was off the bandstand and Art Jr., my
son, was playing in my place, when Frank asked if he could sit
in. I heard this sound and before I saw who it was I thought I
was listening to Wayne Shorter! He writes, too, and he's going
to be important - watch him.
There should be plenty of time to watch him, for as these words
went to press Mitchell was still some 81 years short of his
The prime conversation piece in the new group, for most
listeners, has been Keith Jarrett the incredibly advanced young
pianist who was born in Allentown, Pa., May 8, 1945. The eldest
of five musically inclined brothers, he was playing at three and
concertizing professionally at seven. In 1962 he played a
two-hour solo concert consisting entirely of his own extended
works for solo piano. "Then I went to Boston;' he says, to spend
a year at Berklee School of Music on a scholarship. For three
years I had a trio which was, I think, my most important vehicle
for expression up to the present. After Boston, I moved to New
York and worked with Roland Kirk, C Sharpe (the alto player) and
Completing the group is bassist Reggie Johnson, who had played a
few gigs with Art Jr. The latter brought him to an Art Sr.
rehearsal one day, and as the young-old man put it, "He reminded
me of Jymie Merritt and I knew he'd be right for us." Johnson,
born December 13, 1940 in Owensboro, Ky., started as a
trombonist and gained most of his musical experience playing in
various Army bands over a six-year period. He took up bass in
1961 and by 1964-65 was working with such groups as Archie Shepp,
Roland Kirk, Warren Covington, Giuseppe Logan and Sun Ra. He
names Ray Brown, Paul Chambers and Ron Carter as his major
The Lighthouse is a 180-seater room at sea level, on Pier Avenue
in Hermosa Beach, Calif., literally a stone's throw from the
Pacific Ocean. Howard Rumsey the bassist of the original Stan
Kenton orchestra, walked in there one afternoon in 1949 and saw
John Levine, the owner, with a small group of customers. He
persuaded Levine to let him organize a Sunday session.
The success of the first session led to a series, then to a full
weekend jazz policy and soon to a week-long musical diet, using
the best West Coast jazz talent. Throughout the years since
then, under Rumsey's astute guidance, the Lighthouse has
weathered the same storms that have caused most of the other
jazz clubs to founder. It is now in its 17th year of successful
operation and its fifth as a locus operandi for nationally known
jazz combos. In other words, it is the longest-established night
club in the U.S.A. using modern jazz regularly.
"A lot of the credit for the success of this album should go to
the Lighthouse;' says Art Blakey. "Being a musician himself,
Howard Rumsey knows how to take care of musicians who work for
him. Little things like ice-water and a comfortable couch in the
dressing rooms, as well as big things like having a good piano
and sound system - add it all up and you can see why this is one
of the few places where it's a genuine pleasure to work.
The preceding information concerning the new Blakey battalion
and the recording location should not be construed to mean that
the relentless beat and musical muscle of the New Messengers
cannot still be credited in large measure to the catalytic force
of the leader. No matter how great Art's talent for finding
other talent, the New Messengers would falter in pace and
shrivel in value if the Messenger-in-Chief were not still there,
incisively and polyrhythmically at the helm. It might be
appropriate, in fact, to amend Blakey's statement of ten years
ago by making it read, even more fittingly: "Yes, sir, I'm going
to stay with the youngsters - it keeps their minds active:'
SIDE ONE: Chuck Mangione's Buttercorn Lady is a very proper
melody, in the sense that is is quite diatonic and adheres to
the 32-bar formula. If you were typecasting you might have to
classify it as Calypso; at all events, there is a certain
Caribbean flavor and an unmistakable melodic charm to the
composition, and a fitting simplicity to much of Keith Jarrett's
solo. The latter, because of the nature of this theme, gives us
only a slight taste of his talent; for the entire Keith Jarrett,
wait until Side Two.
Recuerdo, which my Latin teacher tells me is Spanish for I
Remember, is a splendid study in mood-building. Mangione, who
wrote it, introduces it in a muted minor-mode, Milesish style
and soon moves into a long solo passage that offers soulful
evidence of his fast-maturing talent. Note the effective role of
Reggie Johnson's montuna-Iike bass lines.
Frank Mitchell helps to compound the intensity with a brooding,
building improvisation that leads into a fascinating sequence by
Jarrett. The latter uses a technique currently fashionable in
jazz, in which the pianist leans over (or walks around) into the
piano's belly and gently strokes it by the strings. The piano
responds by purring softly. Later, back at the keyboard, Jarrett
also evokes a pensively beautiful mood.
Toward the end the leader takes over. Blakey's respect for the
beat has never been more evident than in this unusual excursion,
for despite the variety of devices employed there is a triplet
accent virtually all the way through his solo.
Chuck returns for the concluding statement, with discreet fills
by Frank Mitchell. Incidentally, though the composition seems to
have a Gillespieish quality, it was not originally planned that
way. "I wrote it, says Mangione, "as a 'legit' work scored for
brass and percussion.
And from there it's back to the theme, or The Theme if you wish
to be formal.
This little riff, known through the years by a variety of
titles, has long served as the sign-off for Art's and other
combos. Basically it is a very simple work, but not too simple
to enable young Mr. Jarrett to make something refreshingly
original out of his solo.
SIDE TWO: Between Races is a hard-bop type theme recorded a
while back by Maynard Ferguson, for whom Mangione worked before
joining Blakey. This track is especially noteworthy for the
contribution of Frank Mitchell. Although everyone (including
Chuck) plays a valuable role in making this passage meaningful
and exciting, the credit still belongs to Mitchell for a solo
that mixes inspiration with coordination. Blakey takes command
with total authority during most of the couple of minutes
between Mitchell's solo and the reprise of the theme.
My Romance is a durable melody which, my Richard Rodgers Fact
Book tells me, was introduced in a show called Jumbo at the New
York Hippodrome in 1935. Somehow it sounds a little different at
the Hermosa Beach Lighthouse in 1966. It is Chuck's vehicle
almost all the way; slow on the first chorus and doubled up (but
still in the same reflective groove) on the second. Before his
final half-chorus there is a remarkable Keith Jarrett interlude.
Keith says "I have no favorites; anyone who is sincere as an
artist and as a person is influential to me;' and from his solo
one can deduce that he has listened attentively to everyone from
Art Tatum and Bud Powell to Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner.
Secret love is a 1954 song by the ASCAP veteran Sammy Fain. It
is a favorite of Chuck's; he recorded it in the first Jazz
Brothers album back in 1960. The tempo is off-to-the-races, and
with Art's furious drive as a guiding force they demonstrate
that few other combos, if any, can better meet the challenge of
a heady pace like this. There is a fine display of walking by
Reggie Johnson, admirable Shorterish tenor from Frank, and a
completely unbelievable Keith Jarrett solo that will show you
what we meant by remarking that Buttercorn Lady gave only a
limited idea of the range of his ideas and technique.