On the day that Blue Note Records issue Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers’ First Flight To Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings, saxophonist Wayne Shorter offers his remembrances of Blakey, the band and the tour on the latest episode of ‘First Look’ with Don Was. You can check it out below.
First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings is a thrilling previously unissued live recording of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers captured at Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo on January 14, 1961 during the band’s first-ever tour of Japan.
The Jazz Messengers were among the first modern jazz groups to tour the country, and adoring Japanese audiences were enthralled by one of the band’s all-time great line-ups featuring the legendary drummer with Lee Morgan on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass.
First Flight to Tokyo was co-produced by Zev Feldman and David Weiss and is available in deluxe 2-LP vinyl and 2-CD editions, both of which come with elaborate booklets featuring rare photos by Japanese photographers Shunji Okura and Hozumi Nakadaira; an historical essay by acclaimed jazz critic Bob Blumenthal; plus new interviews with Wayne Shorter in conversation with Blue Note president Don Was, celebrated saxophonist Lou Donaldson, Japanese jazz star Sadao Watanabe, renowned Japanese music critic Reiko Yukawa, Blakey’s son Takashi Blakey, and a trio of drum greats: Louis Hayes, Billy Hart and Cindy Blackman Santana.
Audio was newly transferred from the original ¼” tape reels, and the vinyl edition was mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180g vinyl at Record Technology Inc.(RTI).
The concert featured soaring performances of well-known jazz staples including Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time,” Thelonious Monk’s “’Round About Midnight,” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia,” as well as Jazz Messenger hits including “Blues March,” “Dat Dere,” and “Moanin’.”