DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. Drummer Art Blakey led his band, The Jazz Messengers, for almost 40 years, making many classic records with top musicians. A newly unearthed 1959 Blakey session is now out. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead likes it a lot.
(SOUNDBITE OF ART BLAKEY AND THE JAZZ MESSENGERS’ “JIMERICK”)
KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Trumpeter Lee Morgan on the fast blues “Jimerick.” That’s from the album “Just Coolin’,” belated new music from drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. This 1959 session went unreleased until now because a couple of months later, the same quintet recorded most of the same tunes for live albums issued instead. Both spirited volumes of the live “Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers At The Jazz Corner Of The World” let the band flex and stretch. But this compact, more crisply recorded studio session is a gem. The band’s front line paired two players who already got along – 20-year-old trumpet phenom Lee Morgan and gruff tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley. Mobley wrote three of the six tunes, including