2018 Japanese CD reissue.
This edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers is an unusual one. The personnel includes Blakey veterans Lee Morgan (returning to the band after some success as a leader), Curtis Fuller, and Victor Sproles, along with John Hicks (who appeared on three other Blakey records) and the tenor saxophonist John Gilmore (of Sun Ra fame) in his only appearance with the band. As was typical of Blakey-led groups, the emphasis is on original material by its members; the one Broadway show tune included, "Faith," is from a long since forgotten I Had a Ball.
Morgan's driving blues "'S Make It" is easily the highlight of the session, though Hicks' richly voiced "Waltz for Ruth" and Fuller's Latin-flavored "Little Hughie" also deserve to be better known than they are. It's a shame that this was the only recording by this particular lineup of the Jazz Messengers, as Gilmore's strong blowing complements Morgan very well.
Ken Dryden ~ AllMusicGuide
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