In an issue of Downbeat from 2009, Joe Lovano named Free For All as his favorite Blue Note album of all time. "I heard Free For All in my late teens. The raw energy of this recording and the way Blakey called the spirits, how he fed everybody and they fed him, gave them a sense of ensemble and playing together. When Freddie Hubbard came into the band after Lee Morgan, he brought something different.
The Jazz Messengers developed more openness and flow in the way they were playing, moving out of the hard-bop sound and concept, and stepping into new directions." Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers recorded many superb albums during its 35 years, but it would be difficult to top the intensity and spirit of Free For All. This 1964 gem features an incredible lineup that had worked together regularly for the previous three years, one consisting of Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton and Reggie Workman in addition to Blakey.
The drummer instilled the love of swinging in each of the players, always pushing them to play at the highest possible intensity level without a second of coasting. On the dazzling "Free For All," the soulful "Hammer Head" and an over-the-top version of "The Core," the Jazz Messengers show that no other group could swing so hard at this explosive level.
This pressing is on SRX Vinyl. SRX stands for “Silent Running Xperience.” SRX is our own proprietary formula, conceived and developed by Rick Hashimoto of Record Technology and manufactured by TPC Plastics. Its noise floor is fathoms lower than any other vinyl we know of out there past or present. Records pressed with it look like normal black discs until you hold them up to the light and see that they are translucent and smoky, silvery gray in color. The near-perfect silence of SRX Vinyl virtually frees the music from groove noise and draws you further into the listening space, setting it in relief so distinct, full and spacious it’s nearly sculptural. You hear more of what’s on the original tapes, not only of the notes played on the instruments but the experience of the event itself. That's why we call it Silent Running Xperience.
Like all Music Matters Jazz releases, this is cut from the original analog tapes, mastered by Ron Rambach and Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio, and pressed at Record Technologies Inc (RTI). The gorgeous gatefold jacket is from Stoughton Printing in City of Industry, California and includes exclusively licensed photos from the original session inside.
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