Blue Note Records releases a previously unknown recording by one of the great line-ups of legendary drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers on November 5.
First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings captures the Messengers – Blakey with Lee Morgan (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Bobby Timmons (piano), and Jymie Merritt (bass) – playing jazz staples including Charlie Parker’s Now’s the Time and Thelonious Monk’s Round About Midnight and Messengers hits Moanin’, Blues March and Dat Dere.
The Messengers were among the first modern jazz groups to tour Japan and received a rapturous welcome from adoring fans.
"I was amazed at the reception when we finished, not just the whole concert, but each thing we played,” remembers Wayne Shorter who went on to visit Japan regularly with Miles Davis, Weather Report and his own groups. “Every time we went on, we knew we were being appreciated in ways we never had been in America."
The album, which is released in deluxe 2-LP and 2-CD editions with elaborate booklets, was co-produced by David Weiss and Zev Feldman, who commented: "My heart leapt from my chest when I heard that these previously unknown tapes of Art Blakey performances from his first Japanese tour existed."
The Japan tour turned made the band whose style was established by Blakey and pianist Horace Silver into a worldwide phenomenon following the 1958 European tour by the Benny Golson edition of the Jazz Messengers - a phenomenon that remained a big international attraction up to the time of Blakey’s death in 1990.