Today brings news that should provide some solace for jazz fans in these trying times: Blue Note Records has unearthed a lost Art Blakey album, called Just Coolin’. Because we assume you’re trying to smash that buy button, you can buy Vinyl Me, Please’s edition right over here, limited to 1000. Below, you can read some background on the album.
The period between October 1958 and July 1959 might be the great lost period for the Jazz Messengers; the core of the quintet was set (drummer Art Blakey, trumpeter Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt), but the saxophone chair was helmed by a returning Jazz Messenger. Hank Mobley had been a charter Jazz Messenger in 1954 before going off on his own, but Blakey asked him to rejoin the group with the departure of Benny Golson in late 1958.
In March, 1959, Mobley and the messengers recorded six songs in Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, including three songs written by Mobley himself (“Hipsippy Blues,” “M&M,” and “Just Coolin’”). A little over a month later, Blue Note founder had the new version of the Messengers’ sets at Birdland recorded for what would become a landmark live album, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers At The Jazz Corner Of The World.
Four of the songs on the album the group had recorded ended up on this live set, so Lion decided to shelve the album for the time being. But then, in July 1959, Mobley was late for a festival date with the Messengers, and he was replaced on the spot by Wayne Shorter, who’d remain with Blakey until 1964. The six songs the Mobley version of the ‘59 Messengers recorded would remain in the vault at Blue Note.
That is, until the tapes for the album were dusted off and remastered by Kevin Gray AAA for this release as Just Coolin’ the lost Jazz Messengers album. You can hear the first single from the album, “Quick Trick” below.