Recorded in August 1968 at Slug’s, the notorious East Village nightclub where Lee Morgan met his violent end, this reissue features a Jazz Messengers lineup that never made a studio record. With Blakey pushing the band and setting the dynamic with his typically bombastic style behind the kit, these Messengers kick into high gear right out of the gate on Slide Hampton’s “New World,” which features dazzling solos from trumpeter Bill Hardman, trombonist Julian Priester and tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, along with a whirlwind solo by the bandleader. Harper turns in some dramatic, emotionally charged tenor work on a sparse arrangement of “Angel Eyes” alongside bassist Lawrence Evans and pianist Ronnie Mathews. (Blakey doesn’t enter until the three-minute mark, and Hardman and Priester sit this one out entirely.)
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