Review Summary: Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers swing hard on The Big Beat! If you like straight-ahead jazz with attitude, then this record is for you!
Lee Morgan, trumpet; Wayne Shorter, tenor sax; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie Merritt, bass; Art Blakey, drums.
Art Blakey is best known for his ferocious and powerful jazz drumming. Whether he is grooving hard behind a soloist or taking one of his burning solos, Blakey displays this power behind the drumkit on "The Big Beat". This record swings so hard that it is guaranteed to make your head bob along with it.
Wayne Shorter wrote the first, second and fifth tune on the record. When I think straight-ahead jazz, I think of these types of tunes. The sound that Shorter's tenor saxophone and Lee Morgan's trumpet make together is so colorful and it just says jazz.
If you want music that has some serious sass look no further. The tunes "Politely" and "Dat Dere" are filled with sass and attitude. Art Blakey's signature buzz roll that he uses to transition between choruses and/or soloists is all over this record and adds so much attitude to the record. Bobby Timmons, the composer of "Dat Dere", takes one of the baddest solos on his tune.
This record has two versions of "It's Only a Paper Moon." The great thing about jazz is that even if a band is playing the same form for a tune, they will almost never play the same thing twice. Both takes of "It's Only a Paper Moon" are great and that is why the second take was added in 1987.
Art Blakey's solos are really great on "The Big Beat." He approaches each solo on this album differently which makes each solo unique. Whether he is playing a tom oriented vamp, improvising over the ride cymbal pattern, or just completely improvising, the solos on this record explain why Art Blakey is a legendary drummer.