Drummer Blakey’s hard-bop outfit The Jazz Messengers could always be relied upon to produce hard-hitting, quality jazz, and this was perhaps their greatest album. The highlights are the colourful Wayne Shorter composition ‘This is for Albert’, which according to Google is a dedication to Bud Powell (although since Bud was born Earl Rudolph Powell I really don’t get it), and ‘Skylark’, on which Freddie Hubbard gives the ultimate trumpet ballad performance.
Album of the Year
Later Messengers outing from 1981, with a young Wynton Marsalis sounding awesome at a time before he had found his own style, while Bobby Watson blows up a storm on alto, and the underrated tenor player Billy Pierce puts down some quality lines. The bass playing of Charles Fambrough is largely responsible for the big group sound, but it is the tunes and arrangements that make this album truly memorable.