Track Selection: El Toro
Lee Morgan (tp) Wayne Shorter (ts) Bobby Timmons (p) Jymie Merritt (b) Art Blakey (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 18 and May 27, 1961
Featuring the Jazz Messengers front line of Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan. With so much recorded material to choose from, The Freedom Rider is perhaps one of Blakey’s less well-known Blue Note releases. The unaccompanied Blakey drum piece “Freedom Rider” occupies a half side: imagine Blakey playing along to a Messengers track but only the drums were recorded – not necessarily one for late night listening or radio play, but may bring out the “inner drummer” in you. Shorter and Morgan having had a rest, they are in blistering form on the remaining tracks, and the whole record deserves to be up there with other Blakey classics like Mosaic and Buhaina’s Delight.
Another Jazz Blog for this record attracted this insightful comment:
“Shit, I haven’t heard this particular record. I gotta say man, that is perhaps one of the coolest motherfucking covers of all time. Thanks for the share man. Looking forward to checking this shit out.”
There you have it. Translation: the cover is pretty cool, thanx for the free download.
Followers of The Evil Silver Disk can enjoy free bonus tracks which of course are not available to followers of The Less Evil Black Disk. True, everyone likes a bonus. The bonus available to followers of the less evil disk, however, is the Jazz Messengers personally coming round to play in your listening room experience.
I was reminded of this during a recent equipment upgrade, play-testing the vinyl upgrade against my digital source. Despite the very fine quality of high-end digital streaming, vinyl remained much the more fresh and lively of the two, drawing you in, making you want to listen, even to recordings or artists you thought you didn’t like. That’s how it works, which is lucky, given the cost and pain we have to go through to secure vinyl.
Of the missing bonus tracks, I think I have some of them on a rare Japan-only vinyl release, Blakey’s Pisces. No, don’t tell me, you have that on TESD and there are even more bonus tracks on that too. Is this a losing battle? Can the Less Evil Black Disc ever triumph? To find out, don’t forget to tune in to the next exciting instalment of The LondonJazzCollector.
Vinyl: BLP4156 original Blue Note
NY labels, Ear, no DG. Stereo. Could be a first stereo pressing, though the seller’s description states “1966”. Cohen Guide-owners will know.
The cover photo illustrates one of the three expressions drummers are permitted on camera: open-mouthed exuberance (problem is, the cigarette falls out), head turned to one side (Shelly Manne, typically posed here) and eyes closed, cigarette in corner of mouth ( Blakey lost in concentration, but enjoying a smoke).
Instruments are extensions of the musician, the music flows from within, not from looking at the kit. Interestingly, there were quite few blind jazz musicians, piano especially. I guess if you have to look at your fingers, you are lost.
Vinyl weight: 145gm, surprisingly light for Plastylite, whose pressings are more usually 170-180gm, up to a mighty 225gm for a Lexington.
Source: Ebay Location: UK
Sellers Description: Superb copy RECORD VINYL.. VG ++ (visual inspection) Small / medium amount of paper scuffs which do not affect the sound quality Play tested 100%….Near Mint , no background noise, no pops, or clicks. Beautiful recording, very crisp and clear.
Accurate description, nothing to complain about here. Nice record, still unsure about whether the claimed provenance as “1966” is an informed guess, a first or later pressing. It is music for listening to, and it sounds great.
Blakey left us this thought:
Amen. Jazz works that way for me too. Whichever format.