Art Blakey Quintet: Art Blakey (drums); Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone); Clifford Brown (trumpet); Horace Silver (piano); Curly Russell (bass).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded live at Birdland, New York, New York on February 21, 1954. Originally released on Bluenote (1522). Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.
Digitally remastered using 24-bit technology by Rudy Van Gelder.
This is part of Blue Note's Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.
Art Blakey's pre-Messengers quintet are in fine form on this second volume of A NIGHT AT BIRDLAND, a date that Blakey later claimed to be the "first time I enjoyed a record session." Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, Curley Russell, original Messengers leader Horace Silver and the powerful Art Blakey present a night of hard-swinging tunes and astounding soloing that defines the state of modern jazz in 1954.
Blakey launches into a raucous solo to introduce the sizzling "Wee Dot" as the set's opener. Switching gears, Donaldson is then featured on the classic "If I Had You," a bluesy ballad that gets a lift by the saxophonist's shimmering tone. The heat is back on, though, as a lightning-quick alternate take of Silver's "Quicksilver" will leave you breathless in its wake. A delightful arrangement of Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" gives us a hint of the future Messengers sound. The end of the set appropriately features two Bird classics--the exemplary "Now's The Time" and the furious "Confirmation"-- both receiving excellent performances that cap off a memorable night of jazz.