Despite consuming as much jazz as I possibly can there are still a few classic albums I haven’t gotten around to listening to. So I’m using the album review category of this blog to address the gaps I have in my classic jazz album knowledge. This week I listened to The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall. This album was recorded from a performance at the Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada and the best musicians of the bebop era were on the gig. Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach made up the Quintet and created this now iconic album.
I’m coming from this album from a different perspective. Many of these tunes I’ve heard hundreds of times and have played them many times as well. So these performances were not as fresh as I’d hoped. The album is still of tremendous quality, but having so much knowledge of every standard did minimize my enjoyment a bit. Still, these are arguably the best versions of these tunes and anyone in the mood for some classic bebop should reach for this album immediately.
The tunes I enjoyed the most were “Wee (A.K.A. Allen’s Alley)” and “A Night in Tunisia” I enjoyed the first tune mainly because I haven’t heard that tune as much as the others and “A Night in Tunisia” I just never get tired of. Overall the songs are performed at a very high level and the reason you will like one over the other will probably be minor. All the songs stay within the bebop world, not really any “out” playing so as long as you enjoy bebop music I can’t imagine hating any of these tunes.
If you have never listened to this album I recommend giving it a listen. If you have not really listened to any bebop music I highly recommend this album. This would be a fantastic introduction to bebop music and an essential album for musicians looking to become acquainted with these standards. Personally I will definitely be returning to this album, but only when I’m using it to help me with my own playing of these songs or when the mood strikes me.