Art Blakey Indestructible (1964) Blue Note

Track Selection: The Egyptian


Lee Morgan (tp) Curtis Fuller (tb) Wayne Shorter (ts) Cedar Walton (p) Reggie Workman (b) Art Blakey (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 24 and May 15, 1964


Late-bop, more urgency, more tension, less swing, the influence of Wayne Shorter prominent, and a magnificent Messengers line up adding texture with Curtis Fuller on trombone.

A lay reviewer on Amazon gives you the full lowdown: “…if you thought you had heard all Blakey’s major recordings and would like the joy of discovering yet another classic from the master drummer/band-leader, this is the one to add to your collection….The hard bop heat is tempered to medium by the modal influence of Miles Davis’ work – which these guys were obviously listening to in this year just before Wayne Shorter switched over to the Davis lineage. ….. The group’s new bassist, Regge Workman, is primed from working with the likes of Sonny Rollins: he gives the Messengers a deep edge, a rudder that veers slightly outside the blues into the uncharted waters of post-bop.

I would venture to say that this is among Blakey’s five greatest CD’s (The Evil Silver Disk) : its right up there with Moanin’. Peak performances by six musicians at their career summits. This session has the tight grooves of ‘Moanin’ with the outside edges of Blakey’s wilder recordings…. What a delighful discovery if you, like me, thought you’d already heard their best!


Vinyl: BST 84193 stereo

Earless – one of those Blue Note recordings allocated its BN number but  a deferred date of release eventually pressed by Liberty. Wikipedia claims it was released “in early 1965”. So where is the ear, Wiki-peeps?

With its 1964 session date, Indestructible!  is probably the lowest Blue Note catalogue number found without the “ear”. Blakey recorded prolifically in the early Sixties and Alfred Lion had a strict personal policy about not saturating the market with any one recording artist (except Jimmy Smith). So the first pressing is for Liberty (I believe pressed by RCA), though using previously printed stock New York labels

Top selling copy on Popsike at $124 says ” 1964 Blue Note 4141 – Original 1st Press (“New York USA label) “Van Gelder” stamped on both sides of dead wax. /  No “Ear” etched. With  original BLUE NOTE inner sleeve  previously printed cover with 43 West 61st address”

Despite NY labels, there is no ear, because first pressing was outside the Blue Note era, probably within the first year after the 1966 sale to Liberty. But it is a Blue Note in every other respect.

Collectors Corner

Source: South London record store with somewhat quirky vinyl jazz – the occasional interesting original among many inexpensive reissues, but always fairly priced, and the shop turnover helped along by the steady flow of rock and pop and DVDs.

Its a bargain, grab it.


Experimenting with ways in which to highlight the etchings in runout groove at the same time as the label detail using 4-stop overexposure and layer blending modes, without relying on window light. Not brilliant but a result with a difficult subject. You can now see the relative size of the catalogue number and the clock-position of the VAN GELDER stamp, and the absence of the ear. (click to view at 1600 pixels) It still looks like a record but with high dynamic range (HDR)


12 thoughts on “Art Blakey Indestructible (1964) Blue Note

  1. Pingback: Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers – Indestructible! (Blue Note BLP 4193) | Into Somethin'

  2. Great work on that label shot in combination with the clearly readable run out groove. The only way I can shoot a good close up, is by holding the record close to the tube light of our kitchen cabinets, while trying to hold my tourist cam as still as possible… 😉


    • Thanks Matty, I have sort of decided this is the way to go in future posts. A close up of the matrix number is ok but you lose all the contextual information, like where around the clock it is positioned, and near the label or grooves, how big or small it is, you can capture all the engravings in one shot, like stamper number, , the ear or whatever, odd initials as well as the label details. I’m experimenting with ways of doing it to find one that is quick and easy. So far far it is hard work, but it will get easier


  3. Hi there,
    nice to learn something new about BN LPs. I had always thought the last “original” Blue Note catalogue number and pressing was Don Cherry’s complete communion (4226) and thus always looked for “ears” in every earlier catalogue number. Maybe i should really get this guide by Fred Cohen… Great job with the HDR-series fotography by the way! I always thought that this’d be the best way to capture every wanted detail. Sounds like this were musically realy a great LP, i always pretty much decided to sort this as “less interesting”.


    • Glad you like the HDR effect, Chris. Only drawback is it a bit labour intensive – takes around 5-10 minutes minutes to do, until I can refine the technique and speed it up.

      One thing Ive learned collecting records is never trust your assumptions – just test them. They used to say about advertising, half of it doesn’t work, problem is, we don’t know which half. At least half what I think is probably wrong. If you start from that position, many more rewarding possibilities open up.


  4. We have a funny way of acquiring similar records around the same time…since I’ve started reading this blog, I’ve found some of the records you post about right before or after you do. In this case, I found a copy of this in a record shop about a month and a half ago. NY labels, VAN GELDER, a little beat up but under $10. The only “problem”…the back of my cover has the “little numbers” in the upper right hand corner – so while the LP has the same hallmarks as yours, mine most likely was pressed later on, when more copies of the cover had to be made. Still, my copy sounds great last I heard it. I should dig it out again and see.

    At the same shop I found Freddie Hubbard’s Blue Spirits – same case as Indestructible in that it never had the ear – in better shape, still small numbers on the back cover, “A Division of Liberty” labels. Again, still sounds pretty nice, and probably wouldn’t have that “hot” sound the pre-Liberty pressings even if I had the “big numbers” in the upper right hand corner.

    By the way, have you ever addressed the chance in font of the “big numbers” in your label guides? I recently acquired a spotless copy of Maiden Voyage – mono, no ear, VAN GELDER, big numbers – and noticed how different that font is from what was used earlier on. Do we safely know that this happened well before the switch to Liberty? Also, have you ever heard anything about Maiden Voyage being a bit of a badly recorded record? It’s one of my favorite all time albums, and while I was stoked to get my hands on this copy, I was surprised how tame and wooden it sounded…I know it’s a Liberty pressing, but it’s on the cusp and from what I understand, it’s one of those records where the “eared” copies are hard to come by.

    (one more aside – my blog finally has content! I’ll be using it as a listening journal on a regular basis, but I am posting a little bit about my records a la LJC and Tim Enjoys Records, etc. )


    • Font size – good suggestion for some detective work. There may be a story there.

      Almost without exception, my early Liberty pressings with old-stock labels and covers are, as they say – smokin’ pressings.Typically around 155 gm weight. Something happened by the time they got around to printing up Division of Liberty labels – the vinyl is thinner and the sound lacking in body. Some pressings are great, others are very lacklustre..
      In the final year running up to the sale to United Artists, there was another down-shift in quality. The label is darker blue and the white is creamy yellowish and the vinyl weight is down to 135 gm. My Blakey The Witch Doctor (BNST 84258) isn’t even a VAN GELDER master.

      This is, I think, all down to Transamerica Corporation – investor-owned financial corporation that got involved with Liberty at the end of the Sixties, putting the squeeze on production costs to squeeze profit out of what was becoming a failing business. All conjecture on my part, but seems to me the way the world works.

      BTW good to see your blog adding content. Competition…great!


      • Took out my copy of Indestructible today and the sound was nice – probably could be hotter and heavier, but certainly worth the $7 I paid for it. At the shop where I purchased it (The Bop Shop, Rochester, NY) the guy behind the register offered me a copy of Let Freedom Ring! that was still sealed, but stereo with that evil “little number” in the top right corner of the back cover…so I knew it was not early enough Liberty that I wanted to spring for it. When I told the employee that, he said something along the lines of “yeah, but Liberty did a nice job with Blue Note.” It’s interesting…when I think about the little amount that I know overall about Blue Note’s history of pressing records…the height of the highs and the valleys of the lows…it’s some of these very early Libertys that prove that, yeah, you know, I guess at first they may have really done pretty well.

        It’s like the rock band that tries to deliver the follow up to their smash hit – the odds are so stacked against them, “good” may seem like “not good enough.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s the decline that is really the saddest part of the BN/Liberty story, but can we say that any other jazz label was still putting out anything of super high quality at the end of the 60s?


  5. This LP never came with an ear. It is one of ten or exceptions first issued with New York USA labels after Blue Note switched to another pressing plant. I just pulled my stereo copy and its got the Van Gelder stamp and a pronounce lip on the outer edge – not ribbed. If your copy has the Van Gelder stamp and NY labels you have a first press. If not, you snagged a smokin’ LP that was pressed more than 40 years ago for sure.

    P.S. – Wanted to know if you just won a UK copy of Jimmy Woods’ “Awakening” on ebay. I was bidding on UK copies of his “Conflict” (which you posted about earlier this year) and was trying to win “Awakening.” While I wanted the copy I am hoping you were the one to outbid. If I am going to get beat why not by the LJC!


    • See picture update at the foot of the post: NY check, VAN GELDER check, I believe it wins the kewpie-doll.
      I am beaten more often than I win nowadays. You can’t outbid TokyojazzCollector with his unlimited resources and I don’t have a problem with losing to fellow collectors (spit) if they want it more, good for them. But I admit I dislike losing to dealers – the ones with scores of 2-3000, who are just going to sell it on.That is very annoying.


    • All questions here are good. Only some of them are more good than others.
      You mean a serrated edge like this?

      The Blakey is smooth-edge but I have seen a couple of Liberty era Blue Notes and the above is a Bill Evans US Riverside. I assumed its the trademark of a particular plant – maybe a subcontractor as it is not that common.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s