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. Golson was responsible for returning the band to their blues and gospel roots, and the resulting album, Moanin’, remains 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 from their previous LPs. 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, legendary drummer Art Blakey delivers a truly earth-shattering performance.
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. In fact, it remains the Jazz Messengers’ greatest work.
It’s certainly not a stretch to say that this is Art Blakey’s best album.