Two different slices of Art Blakey – served up here in a 3CD set! Moanin isn't the Blue Note album of the same name, but a fantastic live set from 1968 – recorded after Blakey's classic Blue Note years, but with a group of fantastic players that includes a young Billy Harper on tenor, Ronnie Matthews on piano, and Julian Priester on trombone. Harper alone is worth the price of the CD – as his firey solos are great, and the whole album's an excellent peek at his early career! There's a sense of open freedom here that's quite different than the earlier Jazz Messengers groove – and this European date is a great complement to the better-known US live recording with the same group from the time. The set features a number of nice long tracks – like Slide Hampton's "Slide's Delight", Billy Harper's "Blues For Eros", Bobby Timmons' "Moanin", and the Jazz Messengers' standard "You Don't Know What Love Is". Sesjun Radio Shows 1 is fantastic radio performances from one of our favorite stretches of the legendary Jazz Messengers group – a time when the lineup featured a young Bobby Watson on alto and Valery Ponomarev on trumpet – two players who'd grow into fantastic leaders on their own, but who here help bring a lot of new life to the group! Watson is especially wonderful – contributing a few key compositions, and that soaring spirit in his horn, which really helped usher in a whole new generation for Blakey's group. James Williams is on piano too, and we actually love his work in this group more than on his later sets as a leader – and remaining players include David Schnitter
on tenor on the first six tracks, and Billy Pierce on the horn on the remaining two – and either Dennis Irwin or Charles Fambrough on bass. Art's still the rock-solid core of the group – a tremendous leader who always gets fantastic performances out of young players – and titles include "ETA", "Dr J", "Free For All", "Along Came Betty", "ETA", and "Evaline". Sesjun Radio Shows 2 is live work from the great Art Blakey – a set that features two different performances from two really great groups! The first two cuts are from 1980 – from a time when the Jazz Messengers features up and coming 80s giants Bobby Watson on alto, Valery Ponomarev on trumpet, Billy Pierce on tenor, James Williams on piano, and Charles Fambrough on bass – all young musicians who'd evolve into leaders on their own in a few short years after these recordings, but who really sparkle here under Blakey's leadership! The cuts feature a great take on the Williams tune "1977 AD", and a long version of the Jazz Messengers standard "Blues March". The last four tracks feature a slightly later group – still with Fambrough on bass, but including wonderful tenor and soprano sax work from Jean Toussaint, plus trumpet from Terence Blanchard, alto from Donald Harrison, and piano from Johnny O'Neal – an equally great lineup, but in a completely different way. Titles include a great take on the Fambrough tune "Little Man" – plus "Polka Dots & Moonbeams" and "Moanin".