The third edition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (arguably their best lineup) debuted in 1958 with Moanin', one of the true classics of hard bop. It remains one of the best selling items in Blue Note's catalog, and rightfully so. The album contains some of the most melodic jazz you'll find anywhere. As part of the label's ongoing RVG series, original producer Rudy Van Gelder did a fabulous job remixing the album, restoring the warmth that was missing from earlier CD releases, as well as the original dynamics of the material.

Blakey leads his group through a driving selection of tunes on this CD that never lets up for a second. "Moanin'" was the first real 'hit' for the group, but the rest of the disc shines as well. One of the highlights (and a must-hear for drum fans) is Blakey's mallet work on the three-part "Drum Thunder Suite." Not only did he have great rhythm; he got real melodies out of his kit when he played. In addition to the newly discovered bonus tracks, the RVG edition includes vintage black-and-white photos of the recording sessions, and new liner notes, making this CD indispensable. No jazz collection should be without this disc.

© 1999 Steve Marshall