Clifford Brown and Art Blakey

The live session in New York City, Birdland Club February 21, 1954 showcased the masters of hard bop at work. “Wee-Dot” is a perfect illustration. Art Blakey kicks off a series of heavy bombs on the trapset. The quintet joins in briefly before Lou Donaldson blazes his notes on the saxophone solo. Clifford Brown takes over the second solo with speed and efficiency. Then Horace Silver lays out some of the most intoxicating hard-blues phrases on the keyboard while Blakey and bassist Curley Russell anchoring the aggressive, driving rhythm. This is a must-experience album from start to finish and many savory repeats are necessary. Even the slow-burning “If I Had You” is achingly beautiful.