Art Blakey Quintet: Art Blakey (drums); Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone); Clifford Brown (trumpet); Horace Silver (piano); Curly Russell (bass).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded live at Birdland, New York, New York on February 21, 1954. Originally released on Bluenote (1521). Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.
Digitally remastered by Rudy Van Gelder.
This is part of Blue Note's Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.
When Pee-Wee Marquette, emcee of Birdland, introduces Art Blakey and his quintet, the audience in attendance erupts in enthusiastic applause. Rightly so; this is a powerful group in full stride. A NIGHT AT BIRDLAND VOL. ONE captures Blakey's pre-Messengers quintet on an evening in February 1954 with legendary trumpeter Clifford Brown and alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson holding down the front line. Longtime partners Blakey and pianist Horace Silver, as well as talented bassist Curley Russell, propel the relentless rhythm section.
The results of that eventful night are now preserved so that we may become patrons of the once legendary nightspot. The fiery mambo "Split Kick" opens the set showcasing Blakey's assertive drumming and the fine blowing of Brown and Donaldson. Silver's bebop-style "Quicksilver" also provides a stunning vehicle for the group's lightning-quick dexterity. Turning the tide, the slow and sultry "Blues" is a totally improvised jam that provides some down-and-dirty solos by the horns and piano. Of course, the highlight of the set is Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia," a piece that would become a Messengers favorite. Finally, Silver's up-tempo "Mayreh" closes the set on a high note with raucous solos all around.