Art Blakey “Au Club St Germain” Vol 3 (1958)

Track Selection: “Along Came Manon”  >>

Artists

Lee Morgan (t)  Benny Golson (ts) Jimmy Merritt (b) Bobby Timmons (p)  Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke (d)  Gana M’Bow (congas) Recorded by Raymond Treillet December 1958

Music

When Art Blakey’s Messengers descended on Paris in December 1958, two recording dates were set – the prestigious Olympia concert hall, and the more funky Club St Germain. It was  Blakey’s strongest line up ever, with Lee Morgan (t), Bennie Golson (ts), Bobby Timmons (p) Jimmie Merrit (b) and a near identical playlist, including hits Moanin’ and Night in Tunisia.

The closest to these recordings on-line is from the Belgian leg of The Jazz Messengers European tour. Its from Volume Two, which is hard to find because its the highlight of the concert: “Moanin’ “. Blakey beaming doing what he loves best, Lee Morgan’s impeccably swinging solo, matched only by Benny Golson picking up at the handover, and soaring to new heights. Unmissable.

Vinyl

The Olympia Concert session was widely released, but the Club St Germain set was released only in France  by RCA in mono in three volumes (Black label, 1959). With no US release, and overall pressing volume small, copies are rare, and in decent condition, rarer still.

Blakey’s reappearance in France 1961 with  young French tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen on the classic “Paris Jam Session” sparked a second pressing of “Club St Germain”, on yellow labels in 1962. Some years later Stereo pressings were added. The only other release of the full  club set is on CD.

Something you need to know about the French and vinyl, if you didn’t already know. A guy I got talking to in a record store told me they used to have a sign on the wall behind the counter about record grading. It went: Mint, Excellent, VG+, VG, Good, Fair, Poor, and French. I saw a copy of Vol3 in France a while back: it looked like a skating rink. As different branches of French Existentialism, Jazz, and taking care of records were entirely incompatible.

Collectors Corner

Imagine my delight when a copy of the missing Volume 3 appeared in a North London store, in near mint condition. (Mint apart from the rear jacket, which contains a huge stamp of the owners name MICHAEL GLUCKMAN six inches wide. Bet he was fun at parties. (Update – a second pressing from the early Sixties, hat tip Rudolf)

Each volume has a different banner colour on the jacket: Blue, White and Red, so the three taken together make up – the French Flag! Just so you know.

The 1959 Black label pressing is superb, utterly lifelike presence in the Club St Germain, with you in the front row, and Lee Morgan three feet from you. Really something worth waiting for

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4 thoughts on “Art Blakey “Au Club St Germain” Vol 3 (1958)

  1. Just bought Vol. 2 this morning. Vinyl in great conditional, cover has some tape but including original RCA inner sleeve. Sound is excellent. Like you said: Lifelike presence! Moanin’ ;))

  2. Welcome Racetripper! I’m with you on the quality of playing on those sessions.Marvelous. Sounds like a bargain that box set. My three volumes of the “original” French release have set me back around $150 in total, so they are not exactly easy on the wallet. If you check out CD&LP, which is a European-type Vinyl Ebay/Discogs/Amazon with many French sellers, you will find them asking big money, especially that black label original first press.

  3. RCA France reissued all 3 volumes in one box set back in the 80s or so. At the time I was a record buyer for a local store in St. Louis, MO and was lucky enough to import a copy, which I kept for myself. It is still one of my favorite Art Blakey albums in my collection. The performance of Moanin’ is second to none. Lee Morgan and Benny Golson are just fantastic and in rare form.

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