Art Blakey and his band The Jazz Messengers is one of the icons in the jazz genre. The band is made up of Art Blakey himself playing drums, Bobby Timmons as the pianist, Jymie Merrit playing bass; Benny Golson played saxophone, and Lee Morgan is a trumpet player. The band was, however, only together for about six months and did only seven released songs, but nevertheless they are credited as being one of the greatest jazz bands of all times.
The Belgium concert that took place in Brussels was one of the many live performances that the group had but this is today the only one recorded on video. It was in October, 1958, at the Palais Des Beaux Arts theatre. All the band members were present at the performance and had their various roles.
The song Just by Myself is a fast and bright song that has a style characteristic for Bebop. There are lots of improvisations, and the focus is mainly done on the individual instrument leading the piece, in this case, the trumpet. The trumpet provides the initial lead and the main solo for the song, while the piano serves to compliment the trumpet by providing the harmony as well as an interlude solo later on in the piece. The bass gives the song the rhythm and some of the key progressions, while the drums keep the tempo of the songs. The drummer, Art Blakey, uses sticks for the whole length of the performance.
In the piece Moaning, Timmons plays a major role in the progression of the song. It begins with him as the lead of the piano providing the tempo and feeling the song. Later on the trumpet takes the lead and with some vibrant riffs and repetitions gives the song a bright and colorful feeling. The bass and drum provide the rhythm and a general tone of the song with the saxophone harmonizing with the lead trumpet.
I Remember Clifford is a more somber and slower tempo song, with the trumpet and saxophone sharing the lead. The piano and the bass provide the harmony and rhythm to the piece laying the foundation for the song. The drums play a somewhat suppressed role gently providing the tempo of the piece.
A Night in Tunisia is characteristically different from the other two songs in the performance, in that it relies heavily on percussion instruments such as drums and shakers. The other members of the band, namely Timmons, Merrit, Golson and Morgan take up various hand percussion instruments such as shakers and bells and together serve as a backup to the main lead of the song that is Blakey. However, as the song progresses, they take up their various instruments again and continue in their signature bebop style. Once again, the main focus is on Morgan playing the trumpet, as he leads the piece with his improvised riffs. The other instruments provide the rhythm and tempo. As the song finishes, the saxophone takes over the lead role.
Just by Myself
In the song Just by Myself, there is much of pomp and color in the piece. The song begins with a high tempo and a flare and retains this for the rest of the piece. There are many instances, in which various instruments take up solos together with drums providing the beat to the song. The piano is also used extensively to harmonize the instruments, while the bass provides a strong baseline throughout the song. The chosen solo is the trumpet solo, which has a varying degree of tempo and chord progressions. The trumpet is very loud and clear at the beginning of the solo and then becomes soft and mellow as if to lull the audience and give them a breathe before coming back with a kick and repetitions raising the energy of the song.
The music of Art Blakey and the messengers, more specifically in this performance, illicit the varied emotions but mainly raise the energetic and happy feelings as a result of the upbeat nature of songs and various solos that have been incorporated.