CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JazzTimes 10: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

In honor of Bu’s 100th birthday, here are 10 of his best performances

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.

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.