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Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World [Complete] (1960)

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Jymie Merritt

Art Blakey (drums) and the Jazz Messengers are back home at Birdland on this second instalment of Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World, Vol. 2 (1961). Over half a decade after recording the seminal bop masterwork A Night At Birdland (1954), the combo -- which sports Lee Morgan (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Bobby Timmons (piano) and Jymie Merritt (bass) -- returned to their former stompin' grounds on the five cuts included on this disc. The band reels under the authoritative beat of Blakey, who grounds the emerging leadership of Morgan and Shorter. If sides such as Hank Mobley's "High Modes" -- which jump-starts this effort -- is any indication, the pair seem to be likewise learning from the experience of simply interacting with each other. This sort of ‘on-the-job training' became an essential element in the Messengers and propelled the likes of Shorter into the orbit of Miles Davis. During his tenure with Blakey, Shorter's trademark lyrical performance style can be actively heard emerging during these recordings. He contrasts Morgan's limber and lilting solos and improvisations, which weaves through Jymie Merritt's pulsating and hypnotic basslines on the previously mentioned "High Modes". "Night Watch", another Mobley composition, is a syncopated and infectiously rhythmic side which spotlights Shorter's increasing grasp on his immense improvisational skills. Again, these abilities would allow the musician to quickly develop as the undaunted instrumentalist that helped revolutionize modern jazz with Miles Davis in the mid ‘60s. The LP concludes with a rousing rendition of Shorter's "The Summit" -- which would become a standard for this particular incarnation of the Jazz Messengers. Once again the lines fly fast and furious between Shorter and Morgan with Timmons securely anchoring the soloists to the equally involved rhythm section. Both the first and second volumes of Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World were collected on a Rudy Van Gelder two-CD edition. This 2002 reissue includes a newly inked essay from jazz historian Bob Bluementhal as well as reproductions of Leonard Feather's original sleeve notes. Enthusiasts should be aware that the sonic distortion is inherent in the master tapes and is otherwise unavoidable on the reissue. However, this should not discourage interested parties and collectors. ~ Lindsay Planer