Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 12, 2018

Moanin’ w/ Blakey, Lee Morgan and the Old New Kids

I intended to let y’all listen to some classic hard bop jazz from October 1958, and as a bonus ALSO see some silly footage of Cary Grant and a chimp from “Monkey Business” (1952)…

Monkey Business (1952) – IMDb


Nov 07, 1952 ·  Directed by Howard Hawks. With Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn…. A chemist finds his personal and professional life turned upside down when one of his chimpanzees finds the fountain of youth.


But the youtube won’t play… maybe a copyright thing…

So instead, here’s another version of the song, performed live…

As for the music, the song  Moanin’  was originally written for the album pictured below, and penned by the pianist here, Bobby Timmons. But it’s been covered many times since 1958, and had vocalese lyrics added by the great Jon Hendricks, and it’s become a terrific standard in jazz ever since.

The album overall was identified by jazz critic Scott Yanow as one of the 17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings. The Messengers performing on this track and throughout the album are as follows:

Other than Merritt, every other player here is a giant in jazz. The role of Blakey as a mentor should never be forgotten, either.


Blakey LP cover

Any serious jazz aficionado is likely aware that Blakey’s bands over the years, even into the 1980s, gave many a young player a great headstart in the big leagues of international jazz performers. He often auditioned or discovered them in their late teens or early twenties, and helped them “level up” in a big way for a few years. The people I’m most familiar with are trumpeters, like Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Wynton Marsalis, even Chuck Mangione (who I don’t see listed below in the list taken from Blakey’s Wikipedia page… a controversial player, but I’ve always liked Chuck’s melodicism and tone). But besides the trumpeters, I really dig Chick Corea and Horace Silver on piano, and Wayne Shorter on sax… heck, one really can’t go wrong with the solo work of most people in the list below. That so many went on to lead their own band is a testament to the teaching of Art Blakey, and the atmosphere he created.

While we are on the subject of Lee Morgan, I highly recommend the fairly recent documentary about him that’s up on Netflix: I Called Him Morgan.

lee morgan doc capture

It’s sort of dark in tone– as it should be with such a tortured genius and his weird story. Similar to the equally good Nina Simone documentary (also still up on Netflix, I believe). But the Morgan one also gives a better flavor for the jazz scene in the late Fifties and early Sixties in general. So if you’re into that kind of thing…

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