Blue Note Records has released a long-shelved Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers recording session as the album Just Coolin’.
Just Coolin’ captures Art Blakey performing with the then-newly formed ensemble of pianist Bobby Timmons, trumpeter Lee Morgan, bassist Jymie Merritt and tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley. This early 1959 recording took place in Rudy Van Gelder’s living room studio in Hackensack, New Jersey just five weeks before Blue Note executive Alfred Lion opted to re-record the band at New York City’s Birdland.
The latter Birdland recordings ultimately superseded the Just Coolin’ sessions and formed Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ live double album At the Jazz Corner of the World, released later in 1959.
“In 2020, it’s great to find more Morgan, Mobley and Timmons in their prime,” veteran jazz journalist Bob Blumenthal writes in Just Coolin’’s liner notes. “The music had clearly settled in during the month that separated studio and live versions, but the fire of these six tracks has an appeal of its own.”
The six-track LP, which was initially scheduled for release in April, arrived last Friday. It includes two brand-new, previously unreleased compositions from the gifted ensemble, “Jimerick” and “Quick Trick.” Listen to Just Coolin’ here: