9. “For Heaven’s Sake” (Not Yet; Soul Note, 1988)
Yes, it’s awfully far into this list to finally bring up a ballad in Blakey’s catalog. This late-period feature for trumpeter Philip Harper is an awfully good one, though. It does bear noting that even on a song as tender as this old standard, Blakey just couldn’t resist giving it a bit of a kick. Still, his bossa break on the song’s bridge does serve the tune well, while also staying out of Harper’s way. There’s only one other soloist, pianist Benny Green, who does an inspired half-chorus before returning to unobtrusive comping with bassist Peter Washington. Even when Blakey turns up the juice, “For Heaven’s Sake” is Harper’s moment.