[Monday Notes no. 64] Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers have been one of the longest-running ensembles in jazz history. The drummer featured dozens of talented young men in his band, contributing to their growth. However, Art Blakey always maintained the leadership of his band, as we see in this recording where the Jazz Messengers play Like Someone In Love, a Jimmy Van Heusen song.
In this 1955 live recording at Cafe Bohemia, the song opens with a typical turn around I VI II V. This type of introduction is recurrent in jazz and can be heard in many pieces, for example we can hear it practically identical in a famous version of A Foggy Day by Frank Sinatra.
Like Someone In Love, piano intro
In its simplicity, this intro serves to establish a relaxed atmosphere and a “medium swing” tempo that allows the soloists to explore the harmonic progression of the song. The first solo is by Kenny Dorham (1’26”), at the end of the first chorus Art Blakey doubles the pulse on the cymbal (2’22”).
Usually it is the soloist who calls for a tempo doubling during a solo, but not in this case because the trumpet player has just taken a break and continues the solo playing “in two”, thus not picking up the drummer’s proposal.
This episode shows that the leader of the band was still the drummer and that he was the one leading his young companions, or at least trying to do so because in this case Kenny Dorham did not accept Art Blakey’s proposal and continued to play in his own way.
The second solo is by Hank Mobley (3’27”) and also in this case Art Blakey doubles the pulse at the end of the first chorus. In this case, the saxophonist accepts the cue and immediately doubles the rhythm of his improvisation (4’28”).
The improvisation by Horace Silver follows (5’28”). The pianist plays in an extremely rhythmic way, suggesting a doubling of the tempo even before the drummer does, which punctually happens at the end of the first chorus (6’29”).
This rendition of Like Someone In Love shows how Art Blakey loved to challenge his musicians, even though his companions were very undisciplined and went their own way. However, the drummer should not have been disappointed, in fact he continued to surround himself with musicians with strong personalities that made the various Jazz Messengers formations always exceptional and different.
Until next Monday!
N.B. This tune is part of the list How to learn 100 jazz standard