Genre: Hard Bop
Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson was only a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers for a short time, yet his impact was enormous. He was responsible for returning the band to their blues and gospel roots. The resulting album was Moanin’, one of the greatest hard bop LPs ever released.
From the opening title track, it’s clear that this iteration of the Jazz Messengers possesses a certain flair and charisma that had been missing on the previous albums. Or rather, they had finally perfected their craft. The interplay of Golson on sax, Lee Morgan on trumpet and the exquisite Bobby Timmons on piano gives us some of the most intricate melodies of the era. Meanwhile, Art Blakey gives one of his most earth-shattering performances captured on record.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to rank Moanin’ as one of the best performed jazz albums of all time. These six songs, recorded in a single session on October 30, 1958, showcase a quintet on absolute fire. It’s certainly not a stretch to say that this is Art Blakey’s best album.