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.
Like all Music Matters Jazz releases, this audiophile vinyl reissue is mastered from the original analog tape and pressed on 180g virgin vinyl at RTI in Camarillo, CA. The highest quality gatefold cover features original session photography on the inside.See more Art Blakey records here