Art Blakey is one of my all-time favorite jazz artists, not only because of his near total mastery of his instrument (drums) but because he never rested on his laurels and was constantly taking artistic risks by reaching out to explore new territory.
Columbia Records (Sony) has recently re-released his 1956 classic Drum Suite with the Jazz Messengers. This record has the hard driving, fast paced action you expect from his well disciplined and thoroughly rehearsed ensemble but with a distinctly African frame of reference. The first song sets the tone of the album with an introductory Swahili chant followed by a pounding tympani. From here the compositions range from Afro-Cuban and cosmic calypso to classic hard bop that makes you wish Eisenhower was still president as the chrome portholes of your massive Buick Roadmaster sparkled in the smog free Los Angeles sun. Yes there was a time.
A new desert island disc for Beamis. I hope y'all get a chance to enjoy it too.